Nafissatou Thiam: The Olympic and World Heptathlon Champion


Nafissatou is a prominent Belgian athlete specializing in multievent competition. She has won several awards in womens’ Heptathlon, javelin, and long jump. In 2019, she set a world record for the women’s high jump after a victorious lead. In the previous years, she won a gold medal in different Heptathlon competitions and thus was voted IAAF World Athlete in 2017.

Early Life of Nafissatou

Mrs. Thiam was born on August 19th, 1994, in Brussels, Belgium, to both native Senegalese parents. Her father, Bamba Thiam, worked as a sculptor and painter. Thiam’s parents divorced when she was just two years old. She started participating in athletics at a very tender age. Thiam won her first athletic competition at the age of seven in 2009. Thiam’s encounter with Roger Lespagnard, a respected Olympic decathlete, and coach, played a significant role in her success. Lespagnard trained Nafissatou during her early days of athletics. By that time, she had already started specializing in heptathlon competitions. Her favorite athlete and role model at that time was a famous Swedish heptathlete, Carolina Kluft.

Thiam’s Career

During Thiam’s junior career, she showed quite a lot of versatility, dominance, and desire to achieve a lot. In 2011 during a global-athletics-championships in Liile, France, Thiam finished at fourth place with 5366 points in Heptathlon. Normally, women’s heptathlon competition comprises shot put, long jump, high jump, javelin throw, hundred meters hurdles, 200 meters sprint, and 800 meters rum. In 2012, she was number 14 with 5384 points after participating in the World Junior Championships in Heptathlon.

The following year, Thiam broke a junior world record after participating in an indoor pentathlon competition in Ghent. She had recorded one of her best results during the competition, achieving 4558 points, breaking her best in 4 of the five events. Thiam’s victory earned her the title of the first Belgian female to break a world record. That is because her predecessor, Mrs. Carolina Kluft, an Olympic and triple world champion, had held the junior record since 2002, though with 4535 points.

However, in March 2013, Thiam’s record was not certified due to a lack of anti-doping control on the day it was achieved. Doping policies are designed to protect clean athletes and help them retain or get what they truly deserve. On July 18th during the same year, Nafissatou won a gold medal in Heptathlon at a European Junior Athletics Championships. She had achieved 6298 points, thereby earning her a new Belgian record.

During Thiam’s senior career, she got more exposed and attended more heptathlon championships. In 2014, she won a bronze medal in European championships in Heptathlon. The following year, she earned a silver medal after participating in indoor championships, pentathlon competitions, and European U23 championships in the high jump. In August 2016, Thiam topped all her competitions in indoor long jump and pentathlon in Belgian national championships. However, her Summer Olympic Games in Rio marked her greatest achievement. She had won a gold medal at an Olympics heptathlon game in Rio after recovering from a significant elbow injury.

She had achieved 6810 points, one of her best marks since the onset of her heptathlon journey. She had defeated the previous record holder, Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Thiam had therefore become the youngest heptathlon gold medalist in history. Due to her excellence in Olympics, the Belgians elected her their flag bearer at the Olympic closing ceremony.

On March 3rd, 2017, Thiam participated in the European Indoor Pentathlon Championships in Belgrade, which she won with 4870 points. In May the same year, Thiam won another heptathlon competition during a hypo-meeting in Gotziz, with 7013 points. By so doing, she earned the title of the fourth woman to score 7000 points and above.  The Hypo-Meeting heptathlon broke the Belgian record for womens’ events.

As of July 2017, Thiam came third in an all-time list behind two prominent athletics players, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Carolina Kluft.  Thiam’s exceptional skills had attracted much popularity. She went to the August 2017 athletics World Championships in London as a hot favorite, winning heptathlon champion. On August 10th, 2018, Thiam won a gold medal at the European heptathlon championships, thereby becoming the third woman to win the Olympic games.

In 2019, Thiam took part in a Heptathlon competition in Decastar in Talence, France, setting a women’s Heptathlon high jump a notch higher, i.e., 2.02 meters. During the same year, around October, Thiam went to a world championship heptathlon competition. Known for her prowess, many expected she would meet much tougher competition this time around. Unfortunately, Thiam got an elbow injury, and that completely limited her ability to defend her title. Her opponent at that time, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, used the inability to her advantage. She recorded a huge score of 6981 points. That day, Thiam walked home with a silver medal. It was not bad, considering her javelin capability was corrupted.

It did not take long before Thiam recovered, and on March 5th, 2021, she won a European Pentathlon Indoor Championships, which was hosted in Torun. Thiam had achieved 4904 points. To date, Thiam is a member of an athletics club operating under the aegis of the Technical and Sports Department of the Royal Club de Liege.

Besides being a professional athlete, Thiam is also a student of geography at the University of Liege. She says her liking for Geography comes from the love she has for Heptathlon and would gladly do any subject in the same line. Other than Geography, climatology and geomorphology are also her best subjects.

Thiam’s Awards

Because of her mulitalent, excellence in athletics and school, Thiam earned prestigious titles, awards, and membership in important organizations. UNICEF named her the Goodwill UNICEF Ambassador in Belgium. In 2015, she was elected Belgian sportswoman of the year, and in 2016 named the European rising start of the year. Her numerous wins also earned her the title of the first female world athlete in 2017. In the same year, she maintained the award for Belgians sportswoman of the year.

Thiam continues to inspire young men and women that anything is possible so long as one has the desire and determination to pursue it. Though known to be shy, many have developed a sense of liking as occasionally seeing her as a role model.

Nafissatou Thiam’s Personal Life

Like all celebrities, the 26-year-old Belgium runner prefers to keep her personal and love life a secret. Sources confirm that Thiam is single, though no evidence proves she isn’t seeing someone. Previously, Thiam was in at least one relationship, though she never got engaged or bore a child. A fact to note is that Nafissatou will be turning 27 in the next 157 days.

Nafissatou has been earning handsomely through athletic, though his exact net worth may be unknown, there are possible estimates. The many sources that talk about Nafissatou’s net worth approximate it to 100000 dollars to 1 million dollars.

How is Nafissatou Giving Back to Her Community?

Being a prominent personality in Belgium and the world at large, Thiam has earned herself many followers. Many had wondered what she did to keep fit; more so, her enthusiasts started asking her to share her workout routines through social media. At first, Thiam thought that many would find the practices boring.

“I received a lot of messages on Instagram. People wanted to see my workouts and were asking what I was doing to stay fit so that they could try it too,” Thiam explained.

“But I thought it was not going to be interesting for them to do what I am doing – it’s too specific for athletics – so I thought, ‘OK, I’ll just do something for them that is fun.”

However, her 139000 plus Instagram followers found her exercises fun and enjoyable. Her homework out exercises was immediately published to help Belgians keep healthy and positive, more so at a time when the novel virus had taken a toll on most parts of the world.

Nafissatou is a great example to the community. By taking part in Olympics and athletics, she has helped change today’s society through empowering women and children and making them believe that anything is possible. Back in the days, sporting activities were only a thing for the males; however, with the changing times, Thiam and other talented women have had the opportunity to explore the sporting world.

She has also helped lift the Belgian flag high, making her country’s popularity widespread. By being a part of the IAF, she has contributed to helping athletes across the globe. Since the creation of IAF, it has sponsored over 400 projects and invested above 35 million dollars in promoting and developing athletics worldwide.

At a time when Nafissatou sustained an elbow injury, she demonstrated perseverance. Immediately she healed, she broke another record. She influences young generations the spirit of never giving up and always working hard to fulfill their ambitions. It is quite historical when ladies like Thiam emerge victorious in male-dominated fields.



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