“There is no reason not to be optimistic when you are struggling to achieve your goals, because work always pays.” Blessed be the one who said it because the new queen of the African sprint Marie-Josée Ta Lou is the perfect illustration of this quotation. The ivorian young woman that is illuminating the continent went through dark moments. She had to work hard to reach the exceptional level that she has today. Here is a retrospective on career paths of the beautiful athlete.
There are some African celebrities with incredible fate, some athletes with impressive performances that dazzle you until you feel the hope for a generation they have become the icons. There are many stories that make you dream and that of the sprinter Marie-Josée Ta Lou is one of them. She was born on November 18, 1988 in Côte d’Ivoire. Throughout her adolescence, the ivorian who is now considered the queen of the African sprint had other aspirations for herself. Passionate about football, she envisioned a professional career in the discipline. Yet the universe had other plans for her.
Marie-Josée enrolled in an athletics school in 2007, notwithstanding her mother who would have liked her daughter to devote herself to a more conventional job. For years, the young lady worked in the shadow while improving continuously.
In 2014 and after many years of intense preparation, some changes started taking place in her style and her performances began to be noticed. The “pocket sprinter” nicknamed this way because of her short height (1m59) took part in the African Championships in Morocco and won three medals: silver on 200 m and two bronze medals on 100 and 4X100 m.
Her life took an unexpected turn in 2015 when she won the 100m and 200m gold medals at the Brazzaville African Games. This 11th edition of the African Games gave her a new status as favorite. And to top it off, the Association of African National Olympic Committees called her the “African Athlete of the Year”.
The Ivorian progressed a notch the following year. In Durban, South Africa, on the occasion of the African Athletics Championships, she won the gold medal in the 200 meters and two bronze medals in the 100 and 4×100 meters. A few weeks later, she narrowly missed the podium of the Rio Olympics by ranking fourth in the finals of 100 and 200 meters. But despite the failure she improved her personal record on 100 m with a time of 10 s 86.
You thought the beautiful story ends here ?! Well no ! To preserve herself and in preparation for the London Worlds, Marie-Josée Talou decided to skip the Games of La Francophonie organized by Côte d’Ivoire in July 2017. Finally, in a spirit of solidarity and because the Ivorian public has asked for her, she took part in the 4X100 m won fairly handily by the Ivorian team.
She then flew to London which hosted the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Marie-Josée Talou made headlines. The athlete gleaned two silver medals (100 and 200 m) and passes close to offer Côte d’Ivoire its first world title in athletics. “If I had moved my better, I would have won the gold medal! But I have the silver medal, I take it and I’m happy with it”. That is what she said about her performance in the 100-meter final won by the American Tori Bowie.
With these performances, Marie-Josée Ta Lou knows that she is now an important opponent for the biggest champions. What does the future hold for her? We can not wait to find out!