| Other || Personal Best:|
800m - 1:55.19 (17-Aug-1994) African Record
1500m - 2:29.34 (Bruxelles, Belgium, 25-Aug-1995) African Record
800m - 1:58.96 (01-Jul-2005)
5th in the 800m (as at 31-Oct-05, IAAF)
As a young girl, Maria excelled in football. In 1988, at 15 years of age, she was encouraged to take up athletics by one of Mozambique's foremost literary figures, the poet Jose Craveirinha - a keen sports fan. His son Stelio, himself a former national long jump record holder, was Mutola's first coach. Plans were made for Maria to join the Benfica athletics club in Portugal, but at the last minute the Mozambique government denied her permission.
Attempts were made to organise scholarships for her to train abroad, but it was not until 1991 that, thanks to an International Olympic Committee Solidarity Program, she went to Oregon, USA to study and train.
Maria broke the world record for the 1000m, becoming the first ever woman to run the distance in under two and a half minutes.
Maria is considered by many to be the greatest female 800m runner of all time. Although she hasn't come close to the world record, her consistency, record at major championships and ability to compete at the highest levels of the sport for well over a decade are unmatched. She was appointed an honorary United Nations youth ambassador in 2003 at a ceremony in Maputo, in recognition of her outstanding athletic achievements.
Maria also went on to break the world indoor record for 1000m.
Her Lurdes Mutola Foundation aims to bring more young Mozambicans to sport and help them achieve their sporting and educational potential.
Mutola also provides a home for her cousin Catarina whose mother died from malaria 14 years ago. In her spare time she enjoys music and reading.