By Greg Bach
When Murielle Ahouré, one of the fastest women on the planet, settles into the starting blocks – for races that often are over in the time it takes to read this opening sentence – she has already visualized the entire race many times over.
That includes the good: like fast starts and perfect form all the way to the finish line.
And even the not-so-good – so she’s fully prepared to adjust in the blink of an eye.
“I do a lot of meditation and a lot of visualization going into the race,” says Ahouré, the 2018 world indoor champion in the 60 meters. “With my events, the 60 meters and 100 meters, they are such technical races, so I run everything through my head – every single scenario – so I have prepared myself mentally for everything.”
Moments before the starting gun goes off, her focus is all-in on executing a clean race and a fast trek to the finish line.
“On the line I always think of the best-case scenario,” she says. “I think about getting out of the blocks, the transition, all of those things. I’m super focused on execution because execution is everything.”
JOURNEY TO GREATNESS
Born in the Ivory Coast, a small country in West Africa, Ahouré discovered the joys of track thanks to a guidance counselor at her high school in Virginia.
“I had no idea what track and field was, but he told me that it was a good way to make friends,” she says. “I said I would give anything a try because I wanted to make friends. I didn’t want to not know anyone.”
Turned out to be a pretty good decision.
So she did a running test that day that dropped jaws.
And changed her life.
“I ran it and the coach said ‘wait, I think the clock is wrong’ so he had me re-run it and I ran it even faster the second time,” she says. “So from there I had the opportunity to join the team and I have been running track ever since.”
And yes, making lots of friends too while turning in mega-fast times along the way.
In 2016 she became the 100-meter African champion and was named flag bearer for the Ivorian delegation at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in London. She also has a pile of medals and podium finishes at races around the globe.
CONFIDENCE: IT’S EVERYTHING
Ahouré never attains the success she’s had without a healthy dose of confidence in her ability.
“Confidence is everything,” she says. “If you believe in yourself and you believe that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, you can do it.”
That’s a message she’s delivering to children every chance she gets working as a UNICEF Champion advocating for children’s rights. She is particularly committed to access to quality education and safe and healthy environments.
“I want kids to believe in themselves and know that they can accomplish any dream that they have, no matter where they are from,” she says. “I am an African woman from a very small country, and I’ve been able to accomplish unbelievable things on the world stage, so I want children to believe in themselves.”
Ahouré is passionate about inspiring kids and making sure they have opportunities to chase those dreams and discover their talents, just like she did as a teenager.
She has done several site visits with UNICEF, where she is working to change the mindsets of some leaders in her country who, she says, “feel like girls’ education is a waste of time.”
“My mission for UNICEF is definitely to give education to every single girl,” she adds. “That’s the platform that I want to do because I didn’t know about track. I found out about track through education. It was because my parents sent me to school that I even realized I had this crazy talent in running. So that’s definitely what I want to bring back to my country as a whole, and to the world, too. I want to make the world a better place.”
UNICEF certainly has a great advocate for helping to make that happen.
To learn more about UNICEF and their great work worldwide click on this link.
Track and Field
Dr. Jennifer Etnier, professor of kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and author of Coaching for the Love of the Game, on helping volunteer coaches be positive difference makers for young athletes
Part Two of our conversation with Lisa Yue, Founding Executive Director of the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation
Dr. Kristine Keane, co-author of the new book Be All In: Raising Kids for Success in Sports and Life, shares all-important insight on concussions, specialization, and more
Lauren Johnson, Mental Conditioning Coordinator for the New York Yankees, on helping young athletes thrive amid the stress and struggles that accompany competing in sports