Being the best

  • Marie-Josée Ta Lou had dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, but talent in the 100 and 200 meters turned her into an inspirational role model for her nation’s athletics.
  • Her career has been marked by ups and downs, but her desire for a gold medal has driven her to continue despite disappointments, such as at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
  • Under the guidance of a new coach and through the encouragement of her boyfriend, Ta Lou reinvented herself, working hard for the World Championships in Budapest.


To be among the fastest but fail to cross the finish line first. Being among the best but failing to win. Athlete Marie-Josée Ta Lou is only one gold medal away. Where “only” is only one word.

Originally from the Ivory Coast, Ta Lou’s desire had always been to be a professional soccer player. Instead, her siblings’ talent and insistence led her to be the inspirational figure for many young hopefuls in her country’s athletic world.

Ta Lou’s story is one of ups and downs. Ta Lou has often been unlucky on the very days and occasions when she should have been perfect.

In competitions of the level of the Olympics and World Championships, in races where runners must exhibit a flawless performance, any slightest misstep can cost you the gold medal. In the best case scenario, so in case you win, you will become a kind of global superstar. At worst you will risk falling into oblivion.

The Tokyo Olympics, in which she managed to collect only a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter finals and a fifth-place finish in the 200-meter finals, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Ta Lou after tearfully calling her boyfriend wanted to announce her retirement.

Having reached that point, she had declared that she no longer wanted to continue running. It was too much for her.

How did it end up?

Or maybe I should say how it didn’t end.

Ta Lou did not retire. Under the guidance of a new coach and through the encouragement of her fiancé, she has been working hard again. She has thus regained confidence in herself and the work she has done, so much so that she says she is in the running for that gold medal that she misses and longs for.

The goal is the World Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary, on August 19.

In athletics, the most important event for an athlete is the Olympics, which are held every four years, and the World Championships, which are held every two years. Athletes are under the watchful eyes of sponsors hunting for new talent to put under contract. Signing new sponsorships is an important not to say indispensable aspect of an elite athlete’s future.

This season, Ta Lou has put herself into many competitions that most athletes did not take part in so as not to waste energy and arrive in top form at the most important events, thus the World Championships and the Olympics.

These side meets proved invaluable for Ta Lou to adapt to a new running style and test the benefits of a different training regimen that has made her a competitive athlete on all fronts, able to compete on equal terms with her opponents.

Does this sound like a story you’ve heard before? It may be, because it could easily be yours.

You are she

Without having a past spent between spiked shoes and a tartan track, without it being even your innermost desire jealously guarded in the drawer, for one reason or another you started running. And you liked it.

You simply didn’t like it. You took such a liking to it that you told yourself you wanted to improve and set new goals and targets to achieve. You rejoiced when you made it and demoralized when it didn’t go as you hoped. But who makes you do it? How many times have you intervened with this phrase. So many hours spent training, so much effort and sacrifice for what? It’s not even your job.

It may not be your job, but it kind of is. We are all a little bit Ta Lou. Reading her story, as well as that of so many other elite athletes, reminded me how democratic running is toward anyone who decides to welcome it into their lives. Regardless of our talents and gifts. The race will confront us with the same challenges, joys and sorrows that everyone will decline and experience in their own way.

(Inspired by the New York Times)


related posts


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.