Updated 24 July 2012
Murielle AHOURE, Ivory Coast (Sprints)
Born 23 August 1987, Abidjan (Ivory Coast) Coach: Allen Powell
Although she was born in Abidjan, Murielle Ahouré has hardly lived in her parents’ country. The stepdaughter of a highly ranked military officer, General Mathias Doué, chief of staff to the Armed Forces of Ivory Coast from 2000 until 2004, moved to France before age 3. By the time she was 13, Doué sent his family to the United States for more safety, and she landed in Bristow, Virginia, with mother Chantal, her 2 brothers and her sister.
Ahouré discovered athletics in her sophomore year at Hayfield Secondary – Alexandria, Virginia. The new kid in school, she was feeling lonely, so her guidance counselor suggested her to join a team as a way to make new friends and introduced her to coach TD Holsclaw two weeks after the beginning of the outdoor track season. It was not long before her talent was acknowledged. Two weeks, later she ran the 200-meter leg of the sprint medley and it was like, 'Whoa! Who is that?' Holsclaw remembers. Ahouré then competed for three years at Hayfield Secondary. By the time of her senior year in high school, when she started receiving scholarships offers she realised “Hey, this is cool. I can do this.”
In September 2005, she joined George Mason University, which allowed her to stay close to home, to start criminal law studies. Under the guidance of head coach Angie Taylor, she lowered her times to 7.47 in the 60m and during the 2006 indoor season. She achieved 11.42 in the 100m and 23.33 in the 200m during the summer season and took part to the heats of the 100m and 200m at the NCAA championships and USA Junior championships.
In 2007, she improved to 7.33 and 23.56 indoors and did 11.41 and 23.34 outdoors. She advanced to the semi-finals of the NCAA championships in the 100m but injured herself during that race and was therefore unable to take part to the 200m.
In 2008 she took part in the heats of the NCAA championships and finished eighth in the semi-finals of the 200m. Her season’s bests remained about the same level as the previous year (11.45 in the 100m and 23.50 in the 200m). At the end of the university year, Ahouré decided to transfer to Miami for her last university season on the invitation of coach Amy Deem – who has also been guiding the career of US sprinter Lauryn Williams. It was a big change both in terms of climate and training regimen, “the hardest thing being adjusting to the weight program and also practicing right after“, Ahoure declared.
Results were not long to come, however. She started the 2009 indoor season with a bang, breaking Lauryn William’s 60m school record in her first outing (7.17 on 17 January at the Kentucky Invitational).
She then successively lowered her 200m indoor record from 23.26 to 23.14, 23.02, and 22.80 – 2009 world best – to take the NCAA indoor title on March 14. This result came a little bit as a shock for the athlete, who didn’t consider the 200m as her strongest event. Outdoors, after a couple of races in the 11.30ies, she broke Ivory Coast’s 100m national record twice, clocking 11.14 and 11.09 on 29 and 30 May. She also dipped twice below 23 seconds in the 200m in wind-aided races. She had her best showing at the NCAA outdoor championships, finishing seventh in the 100m in Fayetteville on 12 June (11.41) and fourth in the 200m the following day in a legal 22.78.
Ahouré graduated in December 2009 at University of Miami with a degree in criminal Law. 2010 didn’t bring too much, besides a 7.25 in the 60m indoors, as she got injured in May and had to cut her season short. At that time she also decided to leave Miami for Houston to train under Jamaican coach Allen Powell in a group that also includes Laverne Jones-Ferrette of the US Virgin Islands and Trinidad’s Aaron Armstrong amongst others. 2011 was marked by a new national record of 11.06 in the 100m on 15 May in Greensboro. The sprinter also made the headlines on 4 June in Clermont Florida, when she clocked a wind-assisted 10.86.
Although her performances had been clearly world class since 2009, Ahouré had yet to make her debut on the international scene and, as such, was not very well known beyond sprinting circles before 2012. Until the days just before the 2012 World Indoors, the young sprinter in fact would have been unable to re-enter the US if she had left the country and so had had to end the previous seasons as early as June while her US-based colleagues would move on to the European circuit. The situation was positively resolved just in time for Ahouré to make her international debut for Ivory Coast at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. As she headed to Istanbul with the fifth best time in the world in 2012 (7.08 on 11 February in Fayetteville), it seemed to be only a matter of time before she started reaping her first international laurels and make a name for herself worldwide.
Ahouré came really close to stealing the show, being overtaken for gold by Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in the very final metres of the race. The silver medal with a new PB of 7.04 was still a considerable achievement – the first medal for Ivory Coast at a World Indoor Championships – and her first stop on the way back to the US was Abidjan, where she was invited to a reception with President Alassane Ouattara. She used that opportunity to encourage the youth of Ivory Coast and especially girls to get more active into sports.
From mid-April to mid-May, Ahouré competed in the US and the Caribbean, with highlights being a 23.13w (wind just above the legal limit) in Austin on 14 April as well as 11.14 and 23.63 at the Cayman Invitational on 9 May before travelling to Europe where she made a big impression with a 100m victory and new national record (11.00) at the Roma Diamond League on 31 May. A week later she also improved the 200m national record (22.42) finishing first in Oslo. Her third major win of the season happened in the Paris leg of the Diamond League on 6 July (22.55). On 14 July, at her last Diamond League outing, the young sprinter had a first taste of London, where she finished 4th of the 100m (11.13) in difficult weather conditions,
Following those promising results Murielle Ahouré is now heading to her first Olympic with high ambition, hoping to end Ivory Coast’s medal drought since Gabriel Tiacoh’s silver in the 400m in 1984.
When she’s not on the track, Murielle Ahoure loves shopping and fashion. Cooking is also a huge hobby for her. As she was born in Ivory Coast, she cooks a lot of African food.
60m: 7.04 (2012) 100m: 11.00 (2012)
200m: 22.42 (2012)
60m – 2006: 7.47; 2007: 7.33; 2008:7.35; 2009: 7.17; 2010: 7.25; 2011: 7.30; 2012: 7.04 100m – 2005: 11.96; 2006: 11.42; 2007: 11.41 (11.28w); 2008: 11.45; 2009: 11.09; 2010: 11.41; 2011: 11.06 (10.86w); 2012: 11.00 200m – 2006: 23.33; 2007:23.34; 2008: 23.50; 2009: 22.78; 2011: 22.31w; 2012: 22.42
2012 2nd World Indoor Championships (7.04)
Prepared by Carole Fuchs for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2012