Jaouad Gharib of Morocco wins the marathon at the 2003 IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Gharib and Benhassi keep Athletics at top in Morocco

Jaouad Gharib and Hasna Benhassi were voted as the best Moroccan sports stars of 2005 in the annual awards which are organised by the Moroccan Press Agency - l'Agence Marocaine de Presse (MAP).

The poll which canvasses 43 different media spread across different spheres (written, audio-visual, and agencies), saw Gharib dominate with 180pts thanks to his successful defence of the World Marathon title in Helsinki this summer. He is only the second man to have achieved that feat in history (Abel Anton ESP: 1997 / 1999).

By winning the MAP award, Gharib, who finished second at last April’s London Marathon, ended the record run of eight consecutive victories in the annual poll by double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj, who in total has been awarded the title of Moroccan sportsman of the year on nine occasions.

The 33-year-old Gharib now plans participation in either the Lisbon or Milan Half Marathons as part of his preparation for the next London Marathon. However, his long term aims remain the defence of his World title in Osaka in 2007, and an attempt to win at the Beijing Olympics of 2008.

Second place in the awards was also taken by an athlete, Adil Kaouch (81pts), the World 1500m silver medallist.

In the women’s poll, Hasna Benhassi, the World 800m silver medallist who also came second in the World Athletics Final, won with 194 points. Behind the 2004 Olympic silver medallist came another athlete Zhor El Kamch, the 5000m and 10,000m champion from last week’s Francophone Games. El Kamch was in fact second equal in the poll along with World Kick Boxing champion, Samira El Haddad. Both drew 35 points each.

Benhassi’s ambition for next year is to win a second World Indoor title when the next edition is held in Moscow, Russia, next March. She took the 1500m crown in 2001, though she will not decide on whether to contest the 800m or 1500m until she has finished her preparation in Ifrane.

Mohammed Benchrif for the IAAF

Men
1- Jaouad Gharib (Athlétisme) 180 Pts.    
2- Adil Kaouch (Athlétisme) 81.
3- Marouane Chamakh (Football) 78.
4- Jamal Belhasni (Jet ski) 40.
5- Abdelkader Zrouri (Taekwondo) 33.
 
Women
1- Hasna Benhassi (Athlétisme) 194 Pts.
2- Zhor El Kamch (Athlétisme) 35.
- Samira El Haddad (Kick boxing) 35.
4- Wiaam Dslam (Taekwondo) 34.
5- Atika Sabib (Cyclisme) 25.
- Nawal Bouzlaf (Savate) 25.