This is Deji Ogeyingbo’s column on Burkina Faso’s first gold medalist, Hughes Fabrice Zango!
Patience and Perseverance were the fuel for Zango’s eventual Gold in the men’s Triple Jump
“My story, the story of Burkina Faso, the story of Africa, the story of the triple Jump.” The story is sweeter when it ends with Gold, and that’s what Fabrice Zango tweeted after his first Gold medal at the world championships in Budapest. It’s a story that has been fueled by patience and perseverance, and with a 17.64m mark, he has turned Bronze in Doha in 2019 and Silver in Eugene in 2022 to a GOLD medal in 2023.
That’s his story. But like the journey, which has been filled with so many near misses, the final inside the National Athletics center was palpable as it saw so many changes with the top three, plus the sudden injury to the bookie’s favorite Jaydon Hibbert- who is the world U20 Champion, as he had to scratch from the first round.
Fabrice Zango, photo by Deji Ogeyingbo
In a heart-pounding display of athleticism and determination, the 30-year-old Zango from Burkina Faso claimed the coveted Gold in the men’s triple jump, solidifying his place among the world’s elite athletes. The stage was set at the international arena, and Zango’s journey to the top was a roller-coaster of fierce competition and breathtaking leaps.
Having previously secured an Olympic bronze in Tokyo, Zango was no stranger to the pressure and expectations of high-stakes competition. The final was graced by the absence of Portugal’s world and Olympic champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo, yet the event’s quality and intensity remained unparalleled. Zango’s performance was a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence, and the battle for gold was nothing short of thrilling.
Zango’s quest for gold commenced with a powerful opening effort of 17.37m, immediately establishing his dominance and leaving his competitors trailing behind. Algeria’s Yaser Triki trailed by a significant 41 centimeters after the first round, a testament to Zango’s early grip on the contest. However, the dynamics of the competition shifted dramatically in the second round, as Cuba’s Lazaro Martinez surged ahead with a leap of 17.41m, pushing Zango to second place.
Zango faced fierce contenders as the rounds progressed, with China’s Zhu Yaming and Cristian Napoles of Cuba showcasing their mettle. Napoles’s fervent celebration followed a personal best of 17.40m, propelling him into the silver medal position. Despite Zango’s valiant efforts, his subsequent jumps failed to elevate him from the bronze position.
Yet, it was in the fifth round that Zango conjured a moment of brilliance that would redefine the trajectory of the competition. With an astounding leap of 17.64m, he soared back into the lead, leaving spectators in awe of his prowess. Martinez, now in second place, faltered with a foul, further solidifying Zango’s reign at the top.
As the final round approached, tension hung heavy in the air, with Zhu making a modest improvement in his distance. However, it was already clear that the spotlight was firmly on Zango. With his position as champion confirmed, Zango’s final jump was a celebratory flourish, resonating with the roaring applause of an enraptured audience. His tricolor flag draped across his shoulders, Zango stood triumphant, a picture of elation and composed victory.
“I want to tell little kids in Africa that everything is possible. You don’t have to be humble when you dream and reach for the highest level. Since 2019 when I got my Bronze medal, I get on pushing. I knew with much persistence I will eventually get the Gold.” Zango said after his win and how it can inspire kids in Africa.
Fabrice Zango’s journey from an Olympic bronze medalist to a world champion is an inspiring tale of dedication and determination. His victory in the men’s triple jump serves as a testament to the unfaltering spirit of an African athlete who relentlessly pursues greatness. As the cheers reverberated through the National Athletics Stadium, Zango’s performance was etched into history, a symbol of athletic brilliance that will resonate for generations to come.
“I want to enjoy the moment, share it with my coach, family and all the support system I have had so far. It’s a dream come true for me, and I want to share this moment with them.” Zango said on how he would celebrate the win.