Athlete Profile

Amy Mbacke Thiam

  • COUNTRY Senegal Senegal
  • DATE OF BIRTH 10 NOV 1976
Amy Mbacké Thiam of Senegal, a season's best in Belem (Wander Roberto Oliveira/CBAt)
Amy Mbacké Thiam of Senegal, a season's best in Belem (Wander Roberto Oliveira/CBAt)
  • COUNTRY Senegal Senegal
  • DATE OF BIRTH 10 NOV 1976


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 25 August 2010

Amy Mbacké THIAM, Senegal (400m)
Born 10 November 1976, Kaolack area
1.83m / 70kg
Coach: Hervé Stéphan

A child full of energy, Amy Mbacke Thiam is remembered for running around a lot and for her passion for football. Her potential was spotted in 1992 by her secondary school teacher, Mouhamadou Lamine Camara, who followed closely the girl able to defeat boys in middle-distance races wearing plastic shoes or running barefoot.

In 1995, for her second trip to the Senegalese capital, Dakar- about 180km away - Thiam finished 4th in the 400m at the national championships. Impressed by the 4x400m team of the Dal Diop club, she requested to join the group and soon moved to Dakar, where she stayed with her grandmother. After a year there, she dropped out from high school to focus only on sports.

Benefiting from emulation and better training conditions, Thiam lowered her best time from 56.0 in 1995 to 53.25 in 1997, which earned her a spot among the 12 athletes recruited for the launch of the Dakar High Performance Training Centre (HPTC), which was set up under the IAAF initiative to help budding African sprinters and jumpers develop into high level athletes on their home soil.

Under the supervision of Frenchman Dr. Hervé Stéphan and Cameroon's Emmanuel Bitanga, Thiam gained the opportunity to compete on the European circuit.  She broke the Senegalese record for the first time in July 1998 (51.60) and had a first taste of international competition when she was 4th in the African Championships in 1998.

In 2009, Thiam then went on to finish 7th in her semi-final at the World Championships in Sevilla (50.77) and 3rd at the All Africa Games. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Thiam again managed to be 7th in her semi-final despite a preparation hampered by shin splints.

Injured again in early 2001, she got back in the saddle by winning the Francophone Games, in Ottawa, with a 50.92 seasonal best just before heading to the World Championships in Edmonton.

In three days and three races, Thiam switched gears with two national records (50.21 and 49.86), dominating all her opponents and climaxed with an almost undreamed of last surge to clinch the World title over Jamaica's Lorraine Fenton (49.88) and Mexico's Ana Guevara (49.97). The first Senegalese to win a world title in any sport, instantly she became a national hero. The following month in Brisbane, she finished 3rd at the Goodwill Games.

2002 did not live up to expectations. Injuries again delayed Thiam’s debut and she failed to impress with a season's best of 50.96 in Monaco.  She could not even save her season with a selection for the World Cup, having to pull out of the Final of the African Championships, in Tunis, because her thigh was too painful.

As training in Senegal became more difficult because of too many distractions, Thiam decided to change her preparation. After winning her world title she was no longer merely an athlete but an instant national heroine, complete with advantages and drawbacks. Inevitably as a star, she was invited everywhere - wanted for radio, TV shows, and marketing operations.

Benefiting from an Olympic scholarship, she left Dakar HPTC and moved to Sherbrooke (Canada), where she stayed four months before linking up with her Dakar team mates and coaches at their French summer training base.

However, in the build-up to the 2003 World Championships in Paris, her prospects did not look good. She suffered Injury and the onset of tonsillitis – which would blight her in 2004 – and she lost precious training and recovery time while having to deal with visa procedures to travel abroad to compete. Yet, once again, Thiam surpassed herself to run her best race of the year when it mattered most, preserving the bronze medal in Paris on the finish line (49.95).

2004 was again a bad year. Suffering tonsillitis and dental problems, the Senegalese flag bearer was a shadow of herself in the heats of the Athens Olympics and had to pull out of the 4x400m after having two teeth taken out during the competition.

Following the fiasco, she put an end to her Canadian experience and reunited in Paris with her former coach Hervé Stéphan, retired from Dakar HPTC.  Under his direction, Thiam got back to 13th position in the 2005 World Top lists (50.69) and reached the Final of the World Championships in Helsinki (8th in 52.22). She then placed 4th in the World Athletics Final the following month in a seasonal best of 50.69 before she finally had surgery to solve her tonsillitis problem.

In 2006, her physical problems finally behind her, Thiam ran below 51 seconds three times (50.86 in Belem on 21 May, 50.54 in Saint-Denis on 8 July and 50.55 in Rome on 14 July).  Well above the others contestants in Africa, she was the expected winner of the African Championships in Bambous, Mauritius, on 11 August but the Senegalese confessed it was harder than expected because of the strong headwind and a thigh spasm sustained mid-race. She then pulled out of the remaining legs of the Golden League needing some rest to prepare for the World Cup in Athens, but the huge bends in lane 9, disturbed Thiam, who could place no higher than 6th in 51.39.

2007 had been one of Thiam’s most promising seasons. With 7 performances below 51 seconds and a season’s best of 50.15 from the Golden League meeting in Rome, she was ranked 7th in the World Top lists going to Osaka for the World Championships, a feat never recorded prior to a major world event. However, the year climaxed in drama with her premature exit in the heats in Japan.

Thiam’s regained shape had been derailed following her absence at the All-African Games in Algiers, in July, which she attributed to not being provided with a plane ticket on time. A suspended 6-month ban by the Senegalese federation just before the World Championship affected her psychologically to the point that she exploded during the heats, finishing a poor 7th in 54.31. Her subsequent slamming of Senegalese athletics authorities in front of the world media in the mixed zone landed her a one year suspension, annihilating her Olympic ambitions.

Thiam’s suspension was finally lifted in May 2008 after long negotiations and backstage maneuvers. However after 8 months without competition, it was too late for Thiam to get back into shape. After a couple pacemaking jobs for the 800m and a few poor outings in the 400m (53.48 SB mid July), the Senegalese drew the curtain on her season.

At 32, she could have called it a day, but with the support of long term coach Hervé Stéphan, she got back to serious training and achieved a solid 2009 indoor season (23.56 new national record in the 200m, and 52.51 on her best distance, three hundredths short of her indoor national record). Though her 2009 times were not up to the level of her best years, Thiam achieved some good performances (victory in Milano in 50.86 on 25 June, and two 3rd places in Rome on 10 July (50.71) and Athens on 13 July (50.72). She however had to settle for one second slower for 5th in her semi-final at the World Championships in Berlin (51.70).

In 2010, Thiam only went below 52 once before the African Championships (51.48 in Tomblaine on June 25). Moving away from world level, the Senegalese is no longer a match for African leader Amantle Montsho of Botswana, who claimed the continental title unchallenged in 50.03. But Thiam showed that she still remains a key player in Africa, claiming silver in 51.32 to earn a second selection in the African team for the Continental Cup.

Personal Best
49.86 (2001)

Yearly Progression
1995: 56.0; 1996: 54.40; 1997: 53.25; 1998: 51.60; 1999: 50.77; 2000: 50.88; 2001: 49.86; 2002: 50.96; 2003: 49.95; 2004: 50.82; 2005: 50.69; 2006: 50.54; 2007: 50.15; 2008: 53.48; 2009; 50.71; 2010: 51.32

Career Highlights
1999    sf    World Championships     (50.77)
1999    3rd    All Africa Games        (50.95)
2000    sf    Olympic Games         (51.60)
2001    1st    World Championships    (49.86)
2001    3rd    Goodwill Games         (51.25)
2003    3rd     World Championships     (49.95)
2004    h     Olympic Games        (52.44)
2005    8th     World Championships      (52.22)
2005    4th     World Athletics Final     (50.69) 
2006     1st     African Championships     (52.22)
2007    h     World Championships      (54.31)
2009    sf     World Championships     (51.70)
2010    2nd     African Championships    (51.32)

Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. ©  IAAF 2006-2010.

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 23.10 -0.7 Doha 13 MAY 2005
200 Metres 23.10 +1.6 Rio de Janeiro 14 MAY 2006
300 Metres 36.37 Sydney 14 SEP 2000
400 Metres 49.86 Edmonton 07 AUG 2001
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
200 Metres 23.56 Liévin 10 FEB 2009
400 Metres 52.48 Stockholm 02 FEB 2006
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
200 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2013 23.55 +1.5 La Chaux-de-Fonds 07 JUL
2009 23.17 +1.7 Angers 24 JUL
2006 23.10 +1.6 Rio de Janeiro 14 MAY
2005 23.10 -0.7 Doha 13 MAY
2003 23.23 +1.9 Sotteville 08 JUL
1999 23.20 -1.0 Réduit 05 APR
300 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2000 36.37 Sydney 14 SEP
400 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2013 52.06 Paris (Charléty) 14 JUL
2012 51.68 Porto Novo 29 JUN
2011 51.77 Maputo 13 SEP
2010 51.32 Nairobi 29 JUL
2009 50.71 Roma (Stadio Olimpico) 10 JUL
2008 54.04 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 13 JUL
2007 50.15 Roma (Stadio Olimpico) 13 JUL
2006 50.54 Paris Saint-Denis 08 JUL
2005 50.69 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 10 SEP
2004 50.82 La Chaux-de-Fonds 08 AUG
2003 49.95 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 27 AUG
2002 50.96 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 19 JUL
2001 49.86 Edmonton 07 AUG
2000 50.88 La Chaux-de-Fonds 13 AUG
1999 50.77 Sevilla 24 AUG
1998 51.60 Dijon 05 JUL
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
200 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2009 23.56 Liévin 10 FEB
2006 23.78 Eaubonne 27 JAN
400 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2013 55.02 Eaubonne 07 FEB
2009 52.51 Stockholm 18 FEB
2006 52.48 Stockholm 02 FEB
2005 53.45 Madrid 24 FEB
Honours - 400 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
14th IAAF World Championships 7sf2 52.37 Moskva (Luzhniki) 11 AUG 2013
The XXX Olympic Games 4h7 53.23 London (OP) 03 AUG 2012
1st IAAF/VTB Bank Continental Cup 2010 5 51.46 Split (Poljud Stadium) 04 SEP 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 5sf2 51.70 Berlin (Olympiastadion) 16 AUG 2009
5th IAAF World Athletics Final 4 50.33 Stuttgart 23 SEP 2007
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7h3 54.31 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 26 AUG 2007
10th IAAF World Cup in Athletics 6 51.39 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 16 SEP 2006
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 6 51.16 Stuttgart 10 SEP 2006
3rd IAAF World Athletics Final 4 50.69 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 10 SEP 2005
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 8 52.22 Helsinki 10 AUG 2005
28th Olympic Games 5h3 52.44 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 21 AUG 2004
1st IAAF World Athletics Final 4 51.06 Monaco (Stade Louis II) 14 SEP 2003
9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 3 49.95 Paris Saint-Denis (Stade de France) 27 AUG 2003
8th IAAF World Championships 1 49.86 Edmonton 07 AUG 2001
27th Olympic Games 7sf2 51.60 Sydney 24 SEP 2000
7th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 7sf2 50.77 Sevilla 24 AUG 1999
7th IAAF World Indoor Championships h3 DNS Maebashi (Green Dome) 05 MAR 1999


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 25 August 2010

Amy Mbacké THIAM, Senegal (400m)
Born 10 November 1976, Kaolack area
1.83m / 70kg
Coach: Hervé Stéphan

A child full of energy, Amy Mbacke Thiam is remembered for running around a lot and for her passion for football. Her potential was spotted in 1992 by her secondary school teacher, Mouhamadou Lamine Camara, who followed closely the girl able to defeat boys in middle-distance races wearing plastic shoes or running barefoot.

In 1995, for her second trip to the Senegalese capital, Dakar- about 180km away - Thiam finished 4th in the 400m at the national championships. Impressed by the 4x400m team of the Dal Diop club, she requested to join the group and soon moved to Dakar, where she stayed with her grandmother. After a year there, she dropped out from high school to focus only on sports.

Benefiting from emulation and better training conditions, Thiam lowered her best time from 56.0 in 1995 to 53.25 in 1997, which earned her a spot among the 12 athletes recruited for the launch of the Dakar High Performance Training Centre (HPTC), which was set up under the IAAF initiative to help budding African sprinters and jumpers develop into high level athletes on their home soil.

Under the supervision of Frenchman Dr. Hervé Stéphan and Cameroon's Emmanuel Bitanga, Thiam gained the opportunity to compete on the European circuit.  She broke the Senegalese record for the first time in July 1998 (51.60) and had a first taste of international competition when she was 4th in the African Championships in 1998.

In 2009, Thiam then went on to finish 7th in her semi-final at the World Championships in Sevilla (50.77) and 3rd at the All Africa Games. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Thiam again managed to be 7th in her semi-final despite a preparation hampered by shin splints.

Injured again in early 2001, she got back in the saddle by winning the Francophone Games, in Ottawa, with a 50.92 seasonal best just before heading to the World Championships in Edmonton.

In three days and three races, Thiam switched gears with two national records (50.21 and 49.86), dominating all her opponents and climaxed with an almost undreamed of last surge to clinch the World title over Jamaica's Lorraine Fenton (49.88) and Mexico's Ana Guevara (49.97). The first Senegalese to win a world title in any sport, instantly she became a national hero. The following month in Brisbane, she finished 3rd at the Goodwill Games.

2002 did not live up to expectations. Injuries again delayed Thiam’s debut and she failed to impress with a season's best of 50.96 in Monaco.  She could not even save her season with a selection for the World Cup, having to pull out of the Final of the African Championships, in Tunis, because her thigh was too painful.

As training in Senegal became more difficult because of too many distractions, Thiam decided to change her preparation. After winning her world title she was no longer merely an athlete but an instant national heroine, complete with advantages and drawbacks. Inevitably as a star, she was invited everywhere - wanted for radio, TV shows, and marketing operations.

Benefiting from an Olympic scholarship, she left Dakar HPTC and moved to Sherbrooke (Canada), where she stayed four months before linking up with her Dakar team mates and coaches at their French summer training base.

However, in the build-up to the 2003 World Championships in Paris, her prospects did not look good. She suffered Injury and the onset of tonsillitis – which would blight her in 2004 – and she lost precious training and recovery time while having to deal with visa procedures to travel abroad to compete. Yet, once again, Thiam surpassed herself to run her best race of the year when it mattered most, preserving the bronze medal in Paris on the finish line (49.95).

2004 was again a bad year. Suffering tonsillitis and dental problems, the Senegalese flag bearer was a shadow of herself in the heats of the Athens Olympics and had to pull out of the 4x400m after having two teeth taken out during the competition.

Following the fiasco, she put an end to her Canadian experience and reunited in Paris with her former coach Hervé Stéphan, retired from Dakar HPTC.  Under his direction, Thiam got back to 13th position in the 2005 World Top lists (50.69) and reached the Final of the World Championships in Helsinki (8th in 52.22). She then placed 4th in the World Athletics Final the following month in a seasonal best of 50.69 before she finally had surgery to solve her tonsillitis problem.

In 2006, her physical problems finally behind her, Thiam ran below 51 seconds three times (50.86 in Belem on 21 May, 50.54 in Saint-Denis on 8 July and 50.55 in Rome on 14 July).  Well above the others contestants in Africa, she was the expected winner of the African Championships in Bambous, Mauritius, on 11 August but the Senegalese confessed it was harder than expected because of the strong headwind and a thigh spasm sustained mid-race. She then pulled out of the remaining legs of the Golden League needing some rest to prepare for the World Cup in Athens, but the huge bends in lane 9, disturbed Thiam, who could place no higher than 6th in 51.39.

2007 had been one of Thiam’s most promising seasons. With 7 performances below 51 seconds and a season’s best of 50.15 from the Golden League meeting in Rome, she was ranked 7th in the World Top lists going to Osaka for the World Championships, a feat never recorded prior to a major world event. However, the year climaxed in drama with her premature exit in the heats in Japan.

Thiam’s regained shape had been derailed following her absence at the All-African Games in Algiers, in July, which she attributed to not being provided with a plane ticket on time. A suspended 6-month ban by the Senegalese federation just before the World Championship affected her psychologically to the point that she exploded during the heats, finishing a poor 7th in 54.31. Her subsequent slamming of Senegalese athletics authorities in front of the world media in the mixed zone landed her a one year suspension, annihilating her Olympic ambitions.

Thiam’s suspension was finally lifted in May 2008 after long negotiations and backstage maneuvers. However after 8 months without competition, it was too late for Thiam to get back into shape. After a couple pacemaking jobs for the 800m and a few poor outings in the 400m (53.48 SB mid July), the Senegalese drew the curtain on her season.

At 32, she could have called it a day, but with the support of long term coach Hervé Stéphan, she got back to serious training and achieved a solid 2009 indoor season (23.56 new national record in the 200m, and 52.51 on her best distance, three hundredths short of her indoor national record). Though her 2009 times were not up to the level of her best years, Thiam achieved some good performances (victory in Milano in 50.86 on 25 June, and two 3rd places in Rome on 10 July (50.71) and Athens on 13 July (50.72). She however had to settle for one second slower for 5th in her semi-final at the World Championships in Berlin (51.70).

In 2010, Thiam only went below 52 once before the African Championships (51.48 in Tomblaine on June 25). Moving away from world level, the Senegalese is no longer a match for African leader Amantle Montsho of Botswana, who claimed the continental title unchallenged in 50.03. But Thiam showed that she still remains a key player in Africa, claiming silver in 51.32 to earn a second selection in the African team for the Continental Cup.

Personal Best
49.86 (2001)

Yearly Progression
1995: 56.0; 1996: 54.40; 1997: 53.25; 1998: 51.60; 1999: 50.77; 2000: 50.88; 2001: 49.86; 2002: 50.96; 2003: 49.95; 2004: 50.82; 2005: 50.69; 2006: 50.54; 2007: 50.15; 2008: 53.48; 2009; 50.71; 2010: 51.32

Career Highlights
1999    sf    World Championships     (50.77)
1999    3rd    All Africa Games        (50.95)
2000    sf    Olympic Games         (51.60)
2001    1st    World Championships    (49.86)
2001    3rd    Goodwill Games         (51.25)
2003    3rd     World Championships     (49.95)
2004    h     Olympic Games        (52.44)
2005    8th     World Championships      (52.22)
2005    4th     World Athletics Final     (50.69) 
2006     1st     African Championships     (52.22)
2007    h     World Championships      (54.31)
2009    sf     World Championships     (51.70)
2010    2nd     African Championships    (51.32)

Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. ©  IAAF 2006-2010.