Marie Jose Ta-Lou is coming back to shape at the right time. Marie Jose Ta-Lou has been one of the finest sprinters on the African continent, and over the last five years, one of the finest sprinters in the world.
Stuart Weir wrote this piece, as his final piece on the Oslo Diamond League meeting.
Marie JosÃ©e Ta Lou is back
Marie JosÃ©e Ta Lou won the 100m at the Bislett in Oslo in 10.91 and I for one was delighted to see her coming back to form at just the right time. It is only her second sub 11 time this year, something she did not manage at all in 2020 as the constraints of the pandemic took their toll. The day she ran 10.90 in Doha to take World Championship bronze seems a very long time ago.
At the Rio Olympics, Ta Lou was fourth 0.007, (10.852 to 10.859) behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. It was a bittersweet moment – initially strange as her time appeared as 11.34 – as she told me later: “I ran well with no mistakes how can the time be 11.34?’ Then it changed to 10.86 and I was happy and I was 4th. But then I saw that my time was exactly the same as the third. So I asked how they decided that I was 4th not 3rd. It was difficult to finish at the same time and be given fourth place not third. That didn’t seem fair. It was really difficult to accept because an Olympic medal is a really special medal and the Olympics are only every four years so to have won a medal would have been a real blessing. It was hard for me but now I have a better perspective and I tell myself that things like this happen in competition according to God’s will. It is more important now to look to the future”. She was also fourth in the Rio Olympic 200m.
Over the next two years, she became the silver lady of women’s sprinting after finishing second in the 100m and 200m at the World Championships in London and in the 60m at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham 2018. The margin in the 2017 World Championship 100 was one-hundredth of a second, another bittersweet moment. “I think I could have done better but at the finish, I didn’t quite lean or dip as I crossed the line and that made the difference. I really think I could have done better, faster than10.86. God alone knows. But I won a silver medal with 10.86. I didn’t expect more than that and was really pleased”.
On her win in Oslo, she said: “When you start your season you just hope for no injuries, good training and to be ready for competition. Today I am happy with 10.90. I’m OK and I am fit”.
Asked about who would provide the biggest competition in Tokyo, she replied “the competition with myself. I just want to do the best that I can do. I respect the other girls but I just look at myself. The target is a gold medal but I am happy with top three”.
I think too that her mom would also be happy with that. She once told me: “My mother didn’t want me to do sport. She wanted me to continue with my studies and to become a doctor. My older brother is a teacher, the second brother in legal training. The third one, well, he got by. As I was the only girl in the family she wanted me to continue my studies. In Africa, there’s not much money in the sport. So that is why she did not want me to commit myself to sport but I think now she is happy”.