MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 9 – Cote d’ivoire’s Marie-Jose Ta Lou, currently the world’s top-ranked female sprinter, is in Mombasa where she will be chief guest at Friday’s Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) Gala.
Ta Lou, 30, arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi at 5.15am and connected to Mombasa where she arrived at 11am, happy to be in Kenya for the first time since 2010 when she competed in her first major international competition, the African Athletics Championships held at the Nyayo National Stadium.
The sprinter, who ran four of the 10 fastest times in the world last year, said she was happy to be in Kenya and to help promote African athletics which she treasures.
“I’m very happy to be in Kenya for the second time now, although it my first time to be in Mombasa where I look forward to enjoying the beaches among other recreational facilities,”
“It’s a good opportunity to see more of the country as I did not have the opportunity in 2010,” she said at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa where she was received by Mombasa County sports executive Kyalo Munywoki and chief sports officer Rajab Babu.
Ta Lou said she hopes to start her training in Mombasa ahead of the indoor season where she will compete in the 60-metre dash before going outdoors in a calendar that will climax in the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September and October.
Doha holds a special place in Ta Lou’s heart as it’s in the Qatari capital where she ran her 100 metres personal best last year, clocking 10.84 seconds at the Doha Diamond League meeting on May 4.
She then ran 10.88 in Eugene on May 26 and 10.89 in Monaco on July 20 before clocking another sub-11 seconds with a 10.90 at the Lausanne leg of the IAAF Diamond League series.
“It’s not really a holiday for me here as I will also start doing some training as I prepare for the indoor season,” she said, adding that she has a strict programme drafted by her respected coach, Anthony Koffi.
“But I’m very happy to be in Kenya for the second time now, although it my first time to be in Mombasa where I look forward to enjoying the beaches among other recreational facilities,” she added.
On Thursday, Ta Lou is expected to pay a courtesy call on Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho before conducting an evening mentorship session with promising sprinters at the Mbaraki sports grounds.
“I live in Africa, train in Africa and I started my athletics in Africa and I would, therefore, want to encourage as many athletes as possible to rise to my level in the continent which is very possible,” she said.
Interestingly, Ta Lou once played football and has also competed in the long jump where her personal best distance is 5.09 metres which she cleared in Cape Coast, Ghana, on July 8, 2016.
Munywoki said Coast people, and Kenyans in general, are excited to host Ta Lou.
“Mombasa has the best weather for athletics and sprints in particular. We hope your visit and the clinic you will conduct will motivate the region to produce a world beater in athletics one day,” Munywoki said, adding that Mombasa is more than ready to roll out the red carpet for Friday’s Soya Gala which will be held at the iconic Fort Jesus.
Ta Lou factfile:
Name: Marie-Josee Ta Lou
Date of birth: November 18, 1988
Place of birth: Bouafle (Cote d’Tvoire)
Coach: Anthony Koffi
Personal best times:
100m: 10.85 (Doha, May 4, 2018)
200m: 22.08 (London, August 11, 2017)
Long jump: 5.09 metres (Cape Coast, Ghana, July 8, 2016)