Rawdath Demba Diallo, 12 and rolling on gold

Yes, this one is different. Absolutely. She doesn’t have a made-up story to share. She won’t even be able to, because she is just turning 12 years old. But, at this age, Rawdath Demba Diallo is a great wonder in sport. And not only that. I discovered Rawdath while I was writing a photo-paper on the 80 awarded champions from the Champions Gala night in Benin.

I had made some research on each sport awarded that night, in order to pick some of the most remarkable. This is actually how I met this West-African star of roller. I have then discovered her beautiful story: first of all Karate, then roller, all these contests, all the gold medals that she was having just by rolling on the streets…A gold-digger who deserve her place thanks to her work and a terrific self-trust.

Rawdath Demba Diallo wants to take it all, she wants to win everything. I talked about it to the #TeamIrawo. I sent them a voice note full of passion, totally amazed by what she was inspiring me: Greatness in ebullition. I saw how she was performing today and I imagined the future. It looked way too bright: to the point that I was blind (laughs).

One could say that her career was starting like an uppercut. We brought out the loupe and we went for hunting …to her hunting. Operation Irawo Rawdath, p16. We have met her coach, her father, her roller mates, her charming brother who is talented as well, and then the president of the Beninese federation of Roller sports who talked about his best memory.

She was presented in about 5 different competitions, and she won the gold medal for each of them. Yet, she is not old enough to be classified in the junior category. But then, she benefited from a double classification over the Beninese and African athlete’s. She was catapulted directly to the senior level. And in front of all the Beninese population, she defeated all the other senior competitors. That’s where she got all the five gold medals. No cheating. Everybody saw that. On the marathon of 42 km, she defeated everybody. Rawdath didn’t think about leaving a single gold medal to anyone in West Africa. After the release of the global performance percentages, she was the owner of the trophy of the best female athlete in Roller sports.

You have no idea of the treasures on which Benin is seated. Those Irawo we are going to track them down and find them one by one, to show them to the world. Today, we are introducing to you a young African, who have her whole life in front of her, and who is ready to face everyone riding on her rollers.

When we encounter Rawdath Demba Diallo, the only first question that comes to the mind is: how does she do it? May her answers surprise you and inspire you. But above all…As soon as you will end up reading his story, take a second and dream…

How did you start the sport?

Because of my dad who was a member of a sport’s club. He used to bring us with him every Saturdays and Sundays. He registered my brother and I for a Karate course. One afternoon, while we were coming out of a training session, we saw some children doing rollers. It was around 5 Pm. We wanted to do the same and we asked Dad to allow us to start that course too. I was ten years old.

What is your dream?

My dream is to succeed in roller. To become the world female champion in roller. Nobody must be better than me: junior or senior. My next challenge is to bring back for Benin the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

What should the authority undertake to help you realizing that dream?

To help us, they have to give us the means to travel, to allow us taking part into some internship which are going to help us to strengthen our techniques, to take part to competitions and to win medals. They have to support us morally and financially. The moral support for me is: to congratulate me anytime when I win medals for Benin, to make something or to give me something.  It will encourage me to make more efforts. I love Benin but there are no things that can really allow me to progress in Roller.

How does it feel to win a first gold medal?

It was my first roller competition, in 2013: speed, endurance and slalom. I got two gold medals for speed and endurance, and a bronze medal for the slalom. When I received the medal, I was really happy. I didn’t think that I could win a gold medal. Because it was the first time I was taking part to such a competition.

What are your classmates saying about your career in roller?

When I have injuries while working, they tease me with that: “you always come to school with wounds”. Sometimes it pisses me off. They say that I have a lot of chance, that I gain a lot of medals. Yes, I have the chance to have started Roller very early. I used to reply to them like that:” you can also do the same”. But only one among them started Roller. They are generally afraid of getting hurt.

I am used to being injured. My ankles are full of wounds. Click To Tweet

I am used to being wounded. My ankles are full of wounds. I don’t listen to them. Is it their body that is injured? It is my body, right? People are always telling me to pay attention not to be wounded.

At the trainings, when we are rolling along the Tori-Akassato road or generally on the road, people are insulting us. They say that we are going to fall on the road, hurt ourselves and die for nothing. Some people are showing us a lot of support, some other try to bring us down.

What is the difference with all the other young champions in the world, who have the same path than you?

They are focusing on only one field. They are focusing on the only thing they know. As for me, I do many things at the same time.

How do you handle rivalry? What if you meet someone who is better than you in the game?

If I met someone who can defeat me, I will leave him first. After that, I will go and train myself and then come back to see that person. I will try to challenge her. There is one girl who started Roller before me. When I joined her in the roller’s world, she saw that I was making progress and that I was working well, but she doesn’t like that.  When I greet her, she doesn’t answer me. Sometimes at the trainings, she hits me on purpose or she insults me. She wants to take the first place, and it motivates me to work harder. She can do whatever she wants. I know that I’ll defeat her.

What is your best race so far?

It was the West-African Roller’s championship that was organized in Benin, and that regrouped 10 countries. I learned there that I had a level. There was the 100m, the 300m, 500m, 15km and 42km. We had some pool matches to go in final. On the 100m, I was afraid of the Senegalese who defeated me at the Africa Game in Senegal. We have met again in final. We started into speed. Almost at the end, she was just right by my side, on the same line. And I did all my best to overtake the race. I imposed her my rule and I was very happy about that. I was able to win the 05 gold medals and I received the trophy of the best female athlete in West Africa. That’s where they offered me new shoes to train myself.

Do you think that your age is a handicap?

No, it is a chance for me to be that young, to have started roller early like that, to be able to win many medals and to be a West Africa female champion.

What is your best booster?

My father, he asks me to eat well to have the strength, to go to all my trainings sessions every week-end, and also to heal my wounds and injuries. All Saturdays morning, I have to work in Roller. At 10 Am, My private teacher is already there. We end up at noon. At 2 Pm, my math teacher comes as well. We will end at 4 pm. Then, at 4pm I have to go back to the stadium. The same thing goes for Sunday with the Koranic School in addition.

He wants me to have abilities in many different things. The first rollers that I got were bought by him. He is my best and my number one support.  My coach has also helped me a lot to have the winner mindset.

That furious desire to win, do you have it everywhere?

Yes. Especially at school. But I had the first place in Roller before I entered the top of my class in my school. I wasn’t really doing well in school before that. The love of roller helped me to be better at school. I am among the three best students of my class, and I am the best when it comes to Physics and Mathematics.

The love of roller helped me to be better at school. Click To Tweet

If you love that much to win, why didn’t you continue with Karate? Why roller?

Karate helps me to control my anger. I loved roller because of the speed. I like to run with my rollers skates. I like all speed racing events.

Apart from that, what did change in your life?

Everybody knows me. Even people that I don’t know (laughs). At school, my teachers and my professors talk to me, and congratulate me for all my trophies. Then, roller allowed me to be more focused and to be less agitated and mostly to be better at school.

Roller allowed me to be more focused. Click To Tweet

To make a race, you have to be focused and run. If you are distracted, you can’t do it. That is exactly what I do with my studies. I am focus on what I am doing, to better assimilate things and work. Roller also allowed me to have a good physical condition, I am in a good shape. I run for a long time without tiring myself. It helps me in karate, because my opponent get tired faster. And I am always the winner at the end of the day.

What do you say to someone who is just starting roller?

To wait, and if that person has a dream, to do everything to make it happen, and come true.  When I started rollers, I was afraid to fall on the road but today I have the strength. I’m no more afraid of falling. I am going to tell him not to be afraid to fall but to rather go straight to his goals. That he will make it.

I am going to tell him not to be afraid to fall but to rather go straight to his goals. Click To Tweet

And to someone who is willing to succeed in life in general?  How do the geniuses do?

Geniuses don’t sleep. One have to work hard in his field, to become stronger and to be the best.

What is your main default as an athlete?

After some physical exercises in karate, I have some pains on my thighs and in my entire body. Sometimes at the training, I am not able to work with the rollers skate. There are some days where I like to work and some other days where I don’t like the idea of working.

So roller as a professional career or just as a passion?

I want to do professional rollerblading. I also want to put my interests in other disciplines of roller: Jump and slalom. I want to become a great roller coach, to lead a large team of high-level top athletes, a large federation, to see many people sign in rollerblading and tell them my story.

I am going to tell him not to be afraid to fall but to rather go straight to his goals. Click To Tweet
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