Born on May 9, 1968, Marie-José Pérec grew up in West Indian island of Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe, an overseas administrative district of France. She was spotted by a visiting a French coach in 1984, who eventually recruited her and took her to the mainland. Her earliest stint with glory was when she came second in the 200-metre dash at the French junior championships. Tirelessly dedicating herself to the sport, she set her first national record when she was 20, in the 400 metres clocking a time of 51.35 seconds. Her Olympic debut was in Seoul, South Korea, where she advanced to the quarterfinals and dominated it across the next two editions of the event.
Better known as ‘La Gazelle’, thanks to her swift movements across the tracks and fields, Marie-José Pérec or Marie-Jo is one of the best female runners across the world. With a series of accolades that include three Olympic Golds, two World Championship Golds and Two European Championship Golds, the French athlete is regarded as a role-model worldwide. After coming out on top in the World Championships in Tokyo in 1991, followed by her gold-winning stint at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, she announced her arrival at the Atlanta Olympics, 1996 by winning Gold in both the 200 metres and 400 metres events. By achieving this incredible feat Marie also became the second-ever Olympian to win double Gold medals in running. Pérec won 400 meters title in Atlanta with an Olympic record time of 48.25 seconds, ranking her as the third fastest woman of all time. Continuing her golden run at Atlanta, she also became the first sprinter to defend her Olympic title in the 400 metres.
Over the course of her 20-year career, Marie stood tall, and collected various national and international honours. In recognition of her contribution to sport, Pérec was awarded the ‘Officier de la Légion d’honneur’ by French President François Hollande in the Élysée Palace in 2013. Marie was also inducted in the IAAF Hall of Fame, a month later in the same year.
After Marie announced her retirement in 2004, she has been actively involved in bringing about social change through peace, associating with the ‘Champions for Peace’ club alongside more than seventy elite athletes committed to promoting peace in the world through sports, created by the Monaco based organisation- Peace and Sport.