Burkina Faso’s Olympic Hope: Hugues Fabrice Zango’s Triple Jump Journey

In the Pursuit of Olympic Gold: Burkina Faso’s Triple Jump Star Hugues Fabrice Zango Embraces the Pressure

For Hugues Fabrice Zango, the weight of a nation’s hopes rests firmly on his shoulders, but the 27-year-old triple jump star from Burkina Faso embraces the challenge rather than denying it. As his country has never won an Olympic medal, Zango represents the best chance Burkina Faso has had in decades to make history.

Zango catapulted himself into the role of Olympic favorite in January, when he shattered the world indoor record with a stunning 18.07m jump in Aubiere, France. This remarkable feat has only heightened the anticipation back home, where 20 million people eagerly await the chance to celebrate Zango’s potential Olympic triumph.

“Everybody in Burkina Faso dreams of this Olympic medal,” says Zango. “This is one of the only chances we have to get a medal, maybe for 20 years, so I have to do it now. I have no choice. For me, it’s a mission.”

Zango’s path to the top was anything but ordinary. He only discovered the triple jump at 17 years old, with his initial best distance a mere 12 meters. But his talent and dedication soon became apparent, and within a few years, he was knocking on the door of the 17-meter mark.

A move to France in 2016 to study at the University of Artois in Arras further propelled Zango’s progression. Under the guidance of coaching great Teddy Tamgho, who himself held the world indoor record, Zango learned that success requires more than just physical prowess.

“When I joined his team, everything changed for me,” Zango explains. “We started working differently from before. He (teaches) me mentally, strategically, (how) to win a medal in championships. It’s not only physical, we need a mental ability to produce a result and he really drove me a lot (on) this side.”

Zango’s breakthrough moment came in January 2021, when he effortlessly shattered the world indoor triple jump record. While he admits the feat surprised him, he knows there is more in the tank, especially with the added pressure of the Tokyo Olympics looming.

“I’m a competitor, I need more stress to be able to improve my best performance. This summer, I will be put under pressure and this will help me to do my best, and this is why 18.07m is not the end.”

The hype surrounding Zango’s Olympic quest has only grown in his home country, with the media and public eagerly anticipating his pursuit of gold. But for the humble athlete, the mission goes far beyond personal glory.

“If I get a medal, in 10 years, we’ll get really good athletes in Burkina Faso,” he says. “I take this as a life mission for me. I will give it my all to realise the dream of my country, and my dream.”

As Zango prepares to etch his name in the history books, the eyes of a nation will be fixed firmly on the triple jump pit in Tokyo, eagerly awaiting the moment when one of their own reaches the pinnacle of athletic achievement.

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