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Guinea: Fatoumata Balley, a miraculous winner at the Olympic Games

Guinea: Fatoumata Balley, a miraculous winner at the Olympic Games

Born in Guinea to a Beninese father and a Guinean mother, Fatoumata Balley is one of the best Guinean athletes of the moment. A career on the rise that nothing could have predicted.Between a difficult childhood and a life as an athlete and model, the path has been strewn with pitfalls.


Olympic Games main objective

Gold medallist at the Jeux de la Francophonie for her first competition with Guinea, and then silver medallist at the All-Africa Games in March 2024 in Accra (Ghana), Fatoumata Balley continues her ascent. After improving her record with a jump of 1m81 in Accra (Ghana), the athlete is now aiming for the top. Her main objective is to qualify for the Olympic Games. To make it to Paris 2024, the Guinean is aiming to break the 1m90 barrier or join the world's top 32, in 48th place. With less than four months to go before the competition, the challenge looks immense for the champion.

"I know it's not easy. But I'm going to do everything I can to achieve my goal.To qualify for the Olympics. To do that, I'm going to take part in all the competitions where I can score points to try and qualify. I need to move up about ten places to get my ticket", confides Fatoumata Balley. She continues. "I didn't necessarily get the help I would have liked. Between the financial needs, the investment in time and everything else required to perform and qualify, it's not easy when you feel like you're fighting alone. I'm trying to do my best to reach this goal. And to go for 1m90 in terms of performance and clinch a ticket to Paris", so hopes the high jump specialist.

An ambitious miracle worker

It's a story that was almost never told or lived.Just 18 months after her birth, the athlete was the victim of a serious domestic accident. She accidentally ingested caustic soda, which completely burnt her oesophagus. Fatoumata Balley looks back on this episode."When I was little, I had a serious accident.When I was 18 months old, I drank caustic soda.I was sent to France for an operation" , the athlete recalls. An accident that forced little Fatoumata to leave the family cocoon and join her uncle in France."There were no means to operate on me in Guinea. My uncle and aunt, who live in France, fought to get me here", explains the athlete.

Second runner-up to Miss Guinea France in October 2022, before handing in her sash in February 2024, Fatoumata Balley is a multi-faceted athlete. A personal development coach, the high jumper draws on the difficulties she encountered as a child."It caused me a lot of problems, both physically and mentally. I encountered a lot of difficulties, in particular a lack of confidence," continues Fatoumata Balley."I felt very different from the others in France. I said to myself, I've got to find an activity in which I can blossom. To feel like the others. I tried other sports, but it was in athletics that I felt most at home. Maybe it's because it's an individual sport, because you have to surpass yourself when you have to do your race" , she adds.

The top level came naturally. I didn't set out to become the gold medallist at the Francophone Games. I wanted to have fun and develop myself in a sport, and naturally I managed to progress, rise higher and higher, and reach the top level for Guinea. Now it's ingrained in my head that I want to become a top-level athlete. Goals only evolve over the course of a lifetime ", says Fatoumata Balley.

Alongside these high-level performances, however, lies a tortuous path.With a difficult childhood, the high jump specialist intends to use her experience to help people in difficult situations. Beyond her life as an athlete, she dreams of becoming a personal development coach."I want to be a personal development coach.To help everyone become the best version of themselves. Just as I have succeeded in doing. I know how much it has helped me in life. I want to do the same for many people who find themselves in the same situation" , reassures the athlete.

At 27, Fatoumata Balley is aiming for a ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics. A difficult but not impossible mission.She who has fought to survive is going to do so to try and achieve one of her greatest goals. To take part in the Olympic Games. All the while hoping that the bars will obey her as they have in recent years.

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