Olympic Scholarship Holders Shine at 2023 World Championships

Photo of Fabrice Zango and Marileidy Paulino

During the conclusion of the 2023 World Athletics Championships on August 28th in Budapest, ten individuals who were beneficiaries of Olympic scholarships achieved podium placements. This group included gold medalists Hugues Fabrice Zango and Marileidy Paulino. Notably, Letsile Tebogo, a 20-year-old athlete from Botswana, stood out by earning two sprint medals.

They have yet to become familiar with a triple jumper named Hugues Fabrice Zango from Burkina Faso… yet in due time, as I rise to become a prominent champion, my name will gain worldwide recognition.

Back in 2018, Hugues Fabrice Zango, a triple jumper, claimed his inaugural significant career achievement by clinching the gold medal at the African Championships held in Asaba, Nigeria. Within Burkina Faso’s athletics realm, he had been spearheading pioneering advancements across the African continent, instilling him with the confidence to surpass even the most accomplished global athletes.

However, emerging from a nation without even a proper jumping facility, his aspirations were met with skepticism.

In the global arena, Zango, who secured the bronze medal in 2019, was part of the cohort of over 800 athletes who were beneficiaries of scholarships and grants provided by Olympic Solidarity in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Games. It was at these Games that he secured Burkina Faso’s inaugural Olympic medal, a bronze.

At the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, two nations celebrated their maiden world titles. Zango claimed the gold medal in the men’s triple jump, while sprinter Marileidy Paulino became the Dominican Republic’s first-ever female world champion.

Both of these athletes are recipients of Olympic Solidarity Scholarships earmarked for the Paris 2024 Olympics. These scholarships are pivotal in offering the essential funding to cover an athlete’s training and competition expenses, accessible to all National Olympic Committees (NOCs), with a special emphasis on those facing the most pronounced needs.

(Achieving these medals) would not have been possible without the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship. It played a defining role in my career,” Zango conveyed to Olympics.com in Budapest, just a day after his historic triumph.

Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso, reigning world champion in the triple jump event

After clinching two bronze medals—one at the Doha World Championships and another at the 2020 Olympic Games—Zango experienced a sense of disappointment for not securing a gold at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene the previous year. Nevertheless, his confidence in his own abilities remained unshaken.

The triple jumper expressed that his performance could have been more remarkable if he had the opportunity to train and compete at the highest level, a challenge he faced due to his status as a part-time athlete.

Since receiving the scholarship, the 30-year-old—who is actively pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering—has been able to advance in his professional journey while simultaneously dedicating time to part-time training, thanks to the steadfast support of Olympic Solidarity.

“The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Burkina Faso recognized my potential as an athlete and proposed the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship. The timing was impeccable, aligning with a pivotal period of transformations in my career,” Zango elaborated.

“At that juncture, I was training under the guidance of a coach within my club. While I had achieved a distance of 17.00m, it fell short of making me a medal contender. Subsequently, with the assistance of the Scholarship, I gained access to increased resources, enabling me to enlist a more seasoned coach, Teddy (Tamgho). This enabled me to establish a systematic approach that facilitated training under his mentorship and participation in a greater number of competitions.”

Marileidy Paulino, hailing from the Dominican Republic, holds the esteemed title of the current world champion in the 400m discipline

After clinching two silver medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and adding another silver in Eugene, Paulino’s much-awaited moment of victory transpired in the women’s 400m race in Budapest. This culmination marked the result of years of devoted sacrifice.

“I have put in substantial hard work over an extended period to attain this milestone. The gold medal was my cherished dream, and I had the skill and capacity to transform this dream into a reality,” expressed Paulino, who entered Hungary’s competition arena as the second-fastest global contender in this year’s contests.

Barbados’ Sada Williams clinches the bronze medal in the 400m competition

At the highest tier of the women’s 400m podium, the initial Dominican athlete to earn multiple medals within a single Olympic Games celebrated the victory alongside another individual supported by an Olympic Scholarship, Sada Williams of Barbados.

Illustrating that her bronze medal from the previous year’s world championships was a result of genuine prowess, the reigning champion of the 2022 Commonwealth Games secured the third position once again. Her performance placed her just behind the silver medalist, Natalia Kaczmarek of Poland.

Representing the British Virgin Islands, Kyron McMaster secures the silver medal in the 400m hurdles competition

Kyron McMaster, the victor of the 400m hurdles gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, sparked a surge of elation in the British Virgin Islands by becoming the nation’s first athlete to capture a medal at the World Athletics Championships.

After setting the national record of 47.08 at Tokyo 2020, the islander openly shared his delight in attaining this milestone in the Hungarian capital. “I’ve fulfilled a part of my dreams,” conveyed McMaster. “This holds immense importance for my homeland.”

Representing Botswana, Letsile Tebogo earns the silver medal in the 100m event and achieves the bronze medal in the 200m event

At just 20 years old, Letsile Tebogo accomplished a historic feat by becoming the first African male athlete to secure a medal in sprint events at the World Athletics Championships. This emerging talent unexpectedly clinched a silver in the 100m event and followed it up with a bronze in the 200m event in Budapest, contributing to Botswana’s medal tally with Noah Lyles leading the way.

After his impressive performance, Tebogo remarked, “This bronze medal is an additional achievement for me. The main aim was to assess how my body would respond after multiple rounds of fast-paced running. It’s a true testament that everything is moving in the right direction.”

Representing Slovenia, Kristjan Ceh attains the silver medal in the discus event

The Eastern European pair, comprising silver medalist Kristjan Ceh from Slovenia and Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania, who secured the third position, highlighted the importance of the backing provided by Olympic Scholarships. Ceh’s silver medal represented his second consecutive appearance on the podium at the world championships, following his previous title win in Eugene.

Representing Lithuania, Mykolas Alekna claims the bronze medal in the discus event

Alekna, the progeny of Virgilijus Alekna, a discus thrower who achieved Olympic and world champion titles twice, attained the remarkable distinction of becoming the youngest athlete ever to propel the men’s discus beyond the 70-meter mark. He accomplished this remarkable feat at the Budapest 2023 event, showcasing his prowess at the tender age of 20.

Despite my youth, I’ve already clinched two world championship medals,” conveyed the 2022 world silver medalist. “Securing the third position while contending with Ceh and Daniel Stahl (the gold medalist) is a tremendous honor and a significant experience that I’ll carry forward to the Olympic Games.

Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines captures the silver medal in the pole vault event

EJ Obiena posed a formidable competition to the renowned Mondo Duplantis, matching his own Asian record by successfully vaulting the six-meter height. Despite falling short of clearing 6.05 meters, he earned a notable silver medal, complementing the bronze he secured in the prior year’s event in Eugene.

Across this year, the Filipino standout has consistently achieved podium placements in 19 out of 20 of his indoor and outdoor competitions, setting the scene for an impressive culmination to the season with the prospect of adding another medal to his collection at the upcoming Asian Games.

Lindon Victor from Grenada earns the bronze medal in the decathlon event

Consider the feat of securing a bronze medal at the World Championships while simultaneously establishing a new national record. This remarkable feat was achieved by Lindon Victor, who amassed an impressive 8756 points in the decathlon event. Yet, his aspirations don’t end there; he is determined to add another medal to his collection at the upcoming Paris Games.

Victor distinctly recalls the hurdles he faced during his initial foray into the sport, including the challenge of finding a college in the U.S. Now, he sets his sights on achieving the honor of becoming a three-time Olympian in 2024.

Representing Pakistan, Arshad Nadeem clinches the silver medal in the javelin competition

Facing various challenges on his journey to Budapest, Arshad Nadeem triumphed over elbow surgery and a knee injury. The World Championships marked his first competition of the year, and it turned out to be quite remarkable.

Displaying his skill, Nadeem achieved an outstanding distance of 87.82 meters on his third attempt, securing the silver medal. His performance was second only to India’s Neeraj Chopra, who had achieved the titles of both Olympic and world champion.


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