Nafissatou Thiam, rising star of 2016


On Saturday 15 October, Nafissatou Thiam was awarded the 2016 Rising Star trophy during the Golden Tracks gala evening organised by the European Athletic Association in Funchal, Portugal.

Saturday evening, 22-year-old Belgian athlete Nafissatou Thiam was awarded her trophy by Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). She received her prize in Funchal alongside male Rising Star of the Year Max Hess – German athlete and winner of the triple jump European title – and female Athlete of the Year Ruth Beita, high jump champion in Rio. Mo Farah, male Athlete of the Year, reacted to his award from his Portland home. Nafissatou Thiam's name was also featured among the 10 candidates shortlisted for the highest female prize.

Her Gold medal performance in the heptathlon during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro came as a surprise to everyone, as she surpassed her usual performance in five of the seven trials in this discipline – including the high jump, in which she reached a height of 1.98 meters.  The young athlete brought home the gold with a total of 6,810 points, improving her record by 300 points. She outperformed British athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill (6,775 points) and Canadian athlete, Brianne Theisen-Eaton (6,653 points).

On Friday 9 September, she once again surprised spectators by winning the high jump title at the AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme competition, reaching a height of 1.93 meters.