In a highly emotional Heptathlon competition at the World Youth Championships, France’s Marisa De Aniceto totalled 5458 points to grab her country’s first gold medal here in Sherbrooke.
The competition hadn’t started in the best of ways for the 16-year-old Angola-born athlete who was trailing in 8th position after day one and four events concluded.
“Yes, I was disappointed after the first day. I was aiming at being among the top five going into the second day but I had a very bad Hurdles. I heavily clipped the first obstacle and that prejudiced the rest of the race.”
A respectable 5.70-metre leap in the Long Jump helped her move up one spot after the opening event of day two but it was undoubtedly the Javelin Throw which saw things dramatically change.
“I threw over 43 metres, about 18 metres more than what the girl who was in the lead did. I didn’t expect to throw so far though. I didn’t know I was capable of such good throws! But after the Javelin, I knew I would win gold as the 800m is my best event,” said De Aniceto after her final race of the day.
The girl who was in the lead and who saw all her medal chances vanish with a very poor 25.52m javelin throw was Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis.
But the girl who was to be the strongest in the final 800m was Germany’s Sarah Kern who, before the two lap race was in third position 76 points behind De Aniceto.
“I had already run an 800 metre against Sarah so I knew I could keep up with her,” said a very confident De Aniceto.
What De Aniceto had to achieve in order to secure gold was to cross the finish line within six seconds of Kern. After letting the German set a very fast pace – 24.92 for the first 200m and 61.34 at the bell - De Aniceto gradually caught up and finished third of the race in 2:16.36. Kern had been timed in 2:11.92: mission accomplished for the Frenchwoman.
“Coming into these championships, I wasn’t even thinking of a medal let alone the gold medal,” smile De Aniceto. “Okay, maybe I had hopes for the bronze but I didn’t want to admit it before the competition.”
A scientific High School student, De Aniceto was born in Angola and came to France at the age of 9 when adopted by an Angouleme-based couple. Whilst in Africa, De Aniceto had never showed any interest in sport but as soon as she settled down in France, Athletics became her world.
“I started training six years ago when I moved to France. Back in Angola, I didn’t do anything. There wasn’t anything for me to do.”
Understandably tired after two days of hard work, De Aniceto made a point of thanking the crowd of Sherbrooke University Stadium.
“It wasn’t easy with events early in the morning and such miserable weather conditions but the crowd was always behind us. They encouraged all of us athletes and this was a precious experience.”
In just over a month now, Marisa De Aniceto will be given the chance to give back her support to older athletes as she will attend the IAAF World Championships at the Stade de France in Paris.
“As a National champion, I have been invited to Paris by the French Federation to watch the Decathlon competitions. And I can’t wait to be there.”
Neither can we.