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European Games - Day 5

Source: Nikola Krstic/MB Media / Getty


It’s 2023 which in the world of Olympic sports means its time to ramp up training and get as many wins as possible to qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. That was on shot putter Jolien Boumkwo’s mind when she was asked to compete – but not in her usual event.

At the European Athletics Team Championships in Poland Buomkwo was asked if she could step in for injured teammates in the 100M hurdles, one of track’s most technically challenging events. When she found out that the team would lose points if she didn’t, she gamely agreed.

The resulting video went viral almost as quickly as the other athletes went past her.

“In my head it looks a bit more elegant than what I’ve seen on the video, but it could be worse as well,” Buomkwo told CNN Sports, citing the clip that gingerly shows her making her way down the track, stepping over the tightly spaced hurdles.

Obviously the shot put, rewards, ahem, thicker women, due to the power it takes to launch a stone to Olympic distances, while hurdles is a specialty considered to be challenging even among the speedsters of track and field that usually requires you to be lithe, thin and fast.

But Buomkwo’s cooperative approach to helping her team, her smile while doing so, and her humility afterward have made her an example of what great teamwork looks like. And she was happy with her time of 32.18, which, while it made her last in the race and 19 seconds behind the others, she noted was less than a minute.

“I was really excited to see how many seconds or minutes I did during the race,” Boumkwo said. “It was less than [one minute] so I’m proud of myself!”

Buomkwo helped her team avoid disqualification, earning two points to try and keep Belgium in the top competitive tier. (But it wasn’t to be. Despite her best effort. Belgium failed to score enough points and was demoted to a lower division).

Her coach cleared her to run the race and Buomkwo was cheered by fans in the stadium and her competitors who gave her high-fives afterward. Her willingness to um, go the extra mile (or 100 meters), made her an immediate fan favorite, though she finished seventh in the shot putt at the event.

The 29-year-old is a 12-time Belgian national champion who also competes in the hammer throw and discus events.

“I’m really happy that this race symbolized something – the team spirit, the team playership – and that people from different situations – professionals, non-professionals, people who are not into sports – really see it and it really connects people,” she said, adding, “I have never been this famous before … It’s really crazy.”

And if you were inspired enough to want to help Buomkwo, who says she has roots in Cameroon on her journey to the 2024 Olympic Games, she has a GoFund Me. 

See Twitter saluting her teamwork below.

Belgian Shot Putter Jolien Boumkwo Goes Viral For Running Hurdles To Save Team  was originally published on cassiuslife.com

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