“At each training, I am in the Olympic final”

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Published on : 12/09/2020 – 21:40Modified : 12/09/2020 – 22:24

With his bronze medal at the World Championships in Doha in October 2019, the triple jumper Hugues Fabrice Zango has very high goals: to be Olympic champion and ultimately to beat the world record. Objectives that had to be postponed because of the pandemic. But the Burkinabè overcame his frustration and managed a few great summer outings. Even if this Saturday, September 12 at the French Championships in Albi, his last competition of the season, was complicated.

RFI: We saw you wince after two modest first tries (16m86, 16m61) and finally give up your last two tries after securing victory thanks to a third try at 17m33. How did you experience your last competition of the season?

Hugues Fabrice Zango: I wasn’t really present at the stadium, I don’t know why I couldn’t concentrate. I did it on a trial and it got 17m33. It’s very positive to be able to at least pull out a jump even when things are bad. But I would have to manage to find an explanation with the group psychologist so that this does not happen when you have to be strong.

You dreamed this year of the Nanjing Indoor Worlds and obviously the Tokyo Olympics, but the season has been turned upside down : what taste will it leave you after all?

At first I said to myself “Oh no m…! We have to wait another year “, I was not ready for this, I was really not happy. But ultimately this year was beneficial to me at the sporting level. I was able to improve some things in my technique that will make me much more dangerous in Tokyo next year. I am completely convinced of that now. I had time to develop certain qualities, which I could not have done in a hurry this year. I’m still on an upward curve. My 17.40 meters are really anecdotal compared to what I am really capable of doing.

This confinement was a test all the same …

Absolutely! Initially we left for a month of confinement, then two months, and then competitions which are canceled in the chain. We were wondering how we were going to do to fulfill our obligations vis-à-vis our contracts with the sponsors because we have a certain number of outings to do each year. Fortunately, a few meetings were held and it saved us a lot.

You recently told the daily L’Équipe that you had found your « jump style » : can you explain this to those who have never tripled in their life?

It’s quite complicated to explain. In fact it’s a jump identity that I’m looking for. If you take some big jumpers, you wonder how they manage not to drop below a certain performance. A Taylor will always be 17m80 in the world championship, this is his minimum floor. He has a jump identity that allows him to replicate that no matter what. Me, people always say that I am strong physically, but there is also the mental dimension in high level sport. From one competition to another, you are not always so committed and the performances fluctuate a bit. I was struggling to stabilize myself so that last year to do a 17m40 I had to go all the way. While this year, I am 17m40 in a natural way without giving everything. I am an Earth jumper. With Teddy (Tamgho, his trainer, editor’s note), we are working on the aerial. I am trying to find my jump identity. I know how to send a big foot bell around 6m50 and a bouncing stride at 5m50 and therefore find myself at 12 meters, it’s quite easy for me. After that, I’m still struggling to finish my jump because I don’t have the right timing yet.

In Hungary last month, you defeated two-time US Olympic champion Christian Taylor for the first time in your career. Even if it was not played at a very high level (17m43 against 17m34), is it important for you?

Obviously because winning gives the opponents food for thought, it affects them psychologically. Indeed, it was not played at a very high level but that does not prevent the way I did these 17.43 meters, it speaks a bit to who knows the triple. This year, it’s very relaxed, I don’t give myself body and soul and I manage to do this performance more or less easily. The manner speaks to Christian Taylor, I know that he asked himself questions and that inevitably plays.

Are you already planning on Tokyo?

In each of my training sessions, I am in the final of the Games. Whether it’s running or jumping training, I’m already in Tokyo and I give it my all in everything I do.

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