The women’s 100 meters in Doha was a fantastic example of the high quality of women’s athletics. Marie Jose Ta Lou, the 2018 World Indoor silver medalist at 60 meters, had a wonderful start and pushed through, running a PB of 10.85! Here’s Stuart Weir column on the women’s 100 meters and the emergence of Marie Jose Ta Lou as the next force in the sprints.
The women’s 100 metres.
The press conference ahead of the 100m featured Elaine Thompson and Dafne Shippers. Which of the two great sprinters would win the Doha DL 100m. It had to be one of them. Unfortunately they forgot to tell Marie JosÃ©e Ta Lou. And for that matter, I don’t think Blessing Okabare got the email either.
In the event, Marie Josee Ta Lou won in a PR time of 10.85, Blessing was second in 10.90, Eliane Thompson third in 10.93 and Murille AhourÃ© fourth in 10.96. Dafne Schippers was sixth. And spare thought for Carina Horn, who dipped under 11.00 for the first time, setting a new South African record. But she was only fifth!
Ta Lou summed up the race, “Everyone on the track is my rival, but I honestly competed to see what I can do and am really happy with my win – more than anything though, I’m so happy about the time! My aim for this season is just to do my best and maybe be able to win the Diamond League. I don’t want to say I want to win everything this year, but if I get to beat my PB again like to day, then that would be fantastic”.
In 2016 she finished fourth in both sprints in Rio. In London 2017, she took silver in the 100 and 200. She reacts to her successes with characteristic modesty: “I didn’t expect to be in the top three because all the girls have the power and talent to make the podium. After every competition I get stronger, I thank God for the power he gives me. Of the 200m, she says: “I did all I could in that race. To get a silver medal is more than I could have asked for. I hope I have inspired a lot of girls back in the Ivory Coast”.
Growing up in the capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan, she played football until her older brother, a sports teacher, made her stop because she was “becoming too much like a boy”. Recognising her natural speed she was encouraged to go to the local track where the athletics club was holding trials to identify new athletes.
Without spikes – in fact without shoes of any kind – she ran barefoot against girls who had been training for months and beat them all in a 200m race. While her brother was pleased she was doing athletics, her mother saw it as a distraction from school, wanting her daughter to study medicine at university.
In 2012, Marie Jose Ta Lou came third in the 200m in the African Championships, achieving the Olympic B standard. She recalls being surprised as she had gone to the event with no expectations other than to try her luck and see if she could be competitive at that level. She was excited to achieve the Olympic standard but as Murielle AhourÃ© had the A standard for London 2012, the B standard was not enough for selection.
In 2015 she was selected for the World Championships in Beijing, reaching the semi-final in the 100m and 200m. In the 200m she ran a PB of 22.56 to miss the final by one place and 0.03 of a second.
In the last year she has moved into real World Class, with her two World Championship medals and a World Indoor medal in 2018. I can’t help thinking that we will hear a lot more about Marie JosÃ©e Ta Lou