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Exclusive Interview – Ndiss Kaba Badji (Long jump/Senegal): « My time has come to be amongst the best »

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Ndiss, you are highly looked upon in Senegal, how do you feel?
I take it as a source of motivation for everything I do because when there are people behind you, who believe in you, you are obliged to double your efforts in everything you in order not to leave any stone unturned. Sure, there is pressure but you have to be positive because if we tell ourselves all the time that there are people hoping on us, this would hinder us from achieving bigger. However, as I am concerned, that is positive pressure.

When did you start practicing athletics?
I started in 1997 at the age of 14. My elder sister used to do athletics so I usually went to the stadium to see what she was doing.
That is the point when I came to like athletics. I started doing it for pleasure but it was as from 1999 that I began focusing on athletics when I was selected for a competition in Mali( African Championships, Zone II) where I won a gold medal. Winning this Championship with Senegal was emotional and motivated me to continue.

What attracted you to long jump event?

Back in those days, when we were young, we tried our hands in all the athletics disciplines but one day, my trainer at the time, Christophe Nassalan, made me try the long jump and I was pleased with it. It was in the days of Cheick Touré and that motivated me.

Are you satisfied with your performances at the start of this season? You finished fifth at the World Indoor Championships…

No, I am not satisfied, I finished fifth and I still have a lot work to do. I had only two months of training, I knew I was not 100% fit , I went to Istanbul to know the state of mind I was in before the Olympics. I told myself that I had to go because last year I did not have a great performance at international level. I had a serious injury so it was an opportunity for me to return to international competition. That enabled me to correct certain lapses and this gave me confidence for the next stages to come.

You are in France since November (Parisian region) for training. Why ?
In Senegal, for sure there are favourable climatic conditions that can enable me to train but I did not have a trainer there and my manager put me in contact with a trainer here so I took the decision to leave Dakar and come and stay here in Paris in order to better prepare for the games. It was a difficult decision to make: to leave your country, leave your entourage to come and settle in France is never really easy, it was a different life starting for me but I did not have a choice, I have come to prepare for the Olympics so I have no other option. The temperature is not the same as in Senegal, I was obliged to do everything on my own while I was being helped in the past. In beginning, it was difficult but I had to arrive at this point because I know why I came here.

How are you preparing for the games ?

But for the moment, I haven’t yet jumped. I will go to Morocco ( ndlr, from the 15 to 27 April) and that is the moment I would jump because my only reference in long jump, is at Istanbul. I am only working on the technical aspect. I am warming up, warming up, stretching myself, and at times I go for muscular exercises, I work on my speed and have some technical sessions.

What are you expecting from the training in Morocco ?
Morocco will be the final bend before the big competitions. I will work on my technique and jump and I think with a bit of heat in Morocco, we will work better.

Have you found any difference with the training in Senegal?

Of course there is a great difference, each trainer has a different approach to jumping. My last training was in Russia, where I saw the Russian method. I equally had a Cuban trainer who had his methods, and now I have a French trainer. Each trainer has his ways of carrying forth with his programme. The best technique of succeeding in the Games? I will answer that question after the Games, It is at that time that I could make the comparism.

What are your next steps before the Olympics ?

I have a very packed-up month of May and I hope to qualify in that month, because the earlier the better for me. I have a tournament on May 11, the Diamond League, I hope to get the minimum time there, I hope however (ndlr, set at 8m 10). Then I have a meeting in Rabat before finishing in Rome for another stage of the Diamond League.

Your objectives for the Olympics ? (if you qualify)
As any ambitious athlete, my objective is to win a medal, that is why I have been training for long. That is equally why I am in France. My dream is to bring back the gold medal to my country.

Are you superstitious?
Yes, this can be seen by the small prayers, we put on the same things during each competition. It is my “technique” and that has always brought me luck. I am happy of my career but I lack only a medal to really crown everything. I have to struggle beyond to really go and grab this medal which has been eluding for the past 4 or 6 years. I have participated in 5 or 6 world finals and I have always finished amongst the top five. This year, I think the time has come for me to be amongst the best. The time has come for me to tell the others “My time has come”, that is my wish. At 28, it is a year of maturity, you know your body better , though you no longer have the legs of a twenty-year old but you are not yet old. This is the year where you have to do things in the right manner.

Signature : Kevin Sanchez

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