Among the twelve athletes that composed the Ivorian delegation, Marie Josée Ta lou, Ben Youssef Meite and Murielle Ahoure were carried the highest hopes for medals, competing in the 100 and 200 meters.
Sadly, none were able to make history. Ahoure almost went invisible in the competition, and failed to qualify for the finals although she was the reigning 100 meters African champion, while Ta Lou got very close to a medal, placing fourth.
As the Ivorian hopes for medals were plunging, two less popular athletes, Ruth Gbagbi and Cheick Sallah Cisse, accomplished exploits, winning taekwondo bronze and gold, respectively. They put an end to the 32 years the country spent without medals. Gbagbi became the first women to win a bronze medal for Ivory Coast, and Cissé became the first Ivorian (and West African) gold-medalist.
Cissé’s performance was absolutely fabulous. During his fights, the public shouted his name, which allowed him to win gold by a small margin; 30 seconds before the end of the fight, he was down 4 points to 6, and he won the gold with an extraordinary kick to the head only 5 seconds before the end of the fight. He won 8 points to 6. Thanks to this success, “L’Abidjanaise”, the Ivorian national anthem, was played at the Olympics for the first time.
– by Samy N.