Maryline Roux’s Olympic dream: sprinting for Ivory Coast

Maryline Roux

A couple weeks ago, a reporter for the Charlotte Observer called me to learn more about masters track. Tonya Jameson, the reporter, was doing a story on Maryline Roux, a national-class W40 sprinter with a startling goal: competing in the 2012 London Olympics for her birth country, the Ivory Coast. Wow!  I later learned more about Maryline in a first-rate interview by Carmel Papworth-Barnum. So I wrote her and asked some more questions about her Olympic quest — which she fully realizes is a long shot. Maryline — who says her name is pronounced “Ma (like the sound ah-ah), Ry (French guttural R .. Re), Ly (Le), Ne (Neu)” — is a great sport. Even if she doesn’t make it to London, she still possesses a heart of gold. Better than any medal.

Maryline helped Athena TC win the 4×4 at Oshkosh masters nationals in July.

Here’s my quickie Q&A with Maryline: Have you been in touch with Fédération Ivoirienne d’Athlétisme on how to qualify for London 2012?

Maryline Roux: I talked to the coach at the beginning of the year. My friend and contact in Ivory Coast, Akre Djeke, gave him my articles about my ordeal in Africa five years ago. I tried to contact him recently via e-mail but had the wrong e-mail address. So, Tonya could not interview him. I’m planning to go on a mission trip to Ivory Coast next spring and would like to meet with him and the sprinters. 

What do you have to do to qualify? Would Ivory Coast expect you to pay your own way there?

I am not sure. For now, I have the dream, the drive and the will to work hard. I have two and one half years to get where I need to go. I have an amazing new coach, Michael Waller. We have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s going to be challenging, but I’m ready for it! I hope that the publicity I’ve been getting lately will help me to get a sponsor. I doubt the Ivory Coast federation would pay for anything right now. I’m sure they are limited.

Since the IAAF “B” standards for Berlin were 11.4 and 23.3 for women, I presume you’d represent Ivory Coast as a single sprinter. Are you confident that you’d be the best Ivory Coast sprinter that year?

I would represent whatever they would be willing to let me represent. Maybe I’ll just hold the flag (ha-ha) Even just being in a relay would be fantastic!

What’s your date of birth? I presume you’d be 45 at the time of London 2012.

11/06/1966. Yes, I will be 45 years old.

What are your-all time track PBs? When did you achieve these?

100m = 12.98 at a local meet in Charlotte this summer

200m = 27.’7 last year. . .

400m = 62.4 relay in Finland

I’m a long way away from the IAAF B standards for Berlin; nevertheless I’m still convinced that I should try. (“Hope is passion for what is possible” Soren Kierkegaard)

What is your support team in Charlotte — family, friends, coaches, Athena teammates?

I have two coaches Michael Waller (track) and Jeff Heal (strength training and nutrition) at Fitnesstogether, a chiropractor, Dr. John Cipriani at LKN Pain Relief and Wellness Center, and a massage therapist Judith Biery at Davidson Therapeutic Massage (plus) family and friends.

When did you first think about running for Ivory Coast in the Olympics?

It was a combination of things. I trained and competed with Achilles’ tendonitis on both feet during my first year of track and field. For some reason, despite the acute pain I could feel during some training sessions and when competing, something deep inside of me was telling me to not give up.

As I grew in the sport and improved, this little cazy dream of mine started to germinate in my head. My African mother, who I never met, made a beautiful sacrifice by letting me go to France for a better life and a better education. Today I want to work hard, run in her memory, and represent the Ivory Coast. This would be my gift to her.

This is very personal. I don’t want to feel pressured. It is between my biological mother and me. If I don’t succeed, she will be proud that I have tried.

(“If we are to live our lives fully and well, we must learn to embrace the opposites, to live in a creative tension between our limits and our potentials. We must honor our limitations in ways that do not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potentials GOD gave us.” Parker J.Palmer)

Do you still have family in Ivory Coast, and are they helping you with logistics?

I do have many half brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts in Ivory Coast. They live in a poor village, though. They need my help! (Through my church in North Carolina, I’m in charge of the Ivory Cost mission project, helping the villagers of my mother’s village.) They will certainly help with prayers and good energy :)

Plans for season 2010 and 2011?

I have not yet discussed those plans with my coach. We’ll figure it out when he returns from the World Masters Games in Sydney.

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October 12, 2009

8 Responses

  1. UnRealistic - October 13, 2009

    Hate to rain on anyones parade, but nobody can drop from a 27 sec 200 to 23.3 or a 62 sec 400 to a required b standard of 54. I like your motivation and wish you the best, but one must also face the realities of unrealistic challenges.
    I do think that the motivation will help you to run your all time bests and for this I wish you well.
    God Speed!

  2. UnRealistic2 - October 13, 2009

    This is a great story and wish all the best w/Maryline’s carrer on the masters running circuit. UnRealistic is correct. World Records for 100 and 200 for W45 are held by Olympian Merlene Ottey. 11.34 and 23.82.
    I hope her coach will let her dream the dream and leave it at that. Very few 45 yr.old men can run these times.
    Lets keep it REAL

  3. Michael V. - October 13, 2009

    Something to ponder. At every IAAF World Championships, countries are allowed at least one male and one female entrant in the meet irregardless of the A and B standards. The IAAF is not going to let that one entrant be a field event person with a mediocre 10 meter PR in the shot put, or a 42 minute 10K person. Nope they’ll make them run the 100 meters. Just this past August in Berlin they had the femal entrant from American Samoa run the 100 meters. Big girl, wanted to throw the shot. Aquitted herself well, ran high 13’s if I recall and was not last on time overall in the prelims. I believe the same rule applies to the Olympics. So dropping a 23.3 isn’t necessarily as important as being your countries lone male or female representative. I’ll be rooting for the 23.3, but it’s not the only ticket to London.
    Best of luck.

  4. Julie - October 14, 2009

    I agree with Michael V. Haven’t we all seen results from athletes competing in major international competitions which are well below the qualifying standards? I know I’ve noticed it several times in the women’s 800 Meters.
    I don’t believe Maryline ever said that she thought she could achieve an Olympic standard. She simply said, “My ultimate goal is to compete at the 2012 Olympics running for the Ivory Coast….”.
    I have no idea of Maryline’s chances of representing the Ivory Coast in the 2012 Olympics, but admire her setting a goal that could bring help to people who live there, and for having the passion and determination to try to make it happen. Sometimes the journey is more important than the end result.
    Good Luck Maryline!

  5. edgardo barcella (italia) - October 15, 2009

    the simplicity of the workout, in the effort, the commitment and perseverance is contained the secret of the sport clean. those who start from these assumptions can never be disappointed with the outcome.
    I think Maryline do this and do understand that if the Ivory Coast will bring, it will do only for the commitment she has put …
    times, lap times you are important, a key competitive sport …..
    Maryline precisely why he trains and is the first to know that if some young Ivorian athlete will stronger than her, will be to participate ….
    where is the news??
    But why not dream and believe that improvement or not, a chance to reach their dream, and livable.
    I can not do anything else, with great esteem cheer ….

  6. Robin - October 15, 2009

    Maryline is pure of heart and strong in spirit.
    Why speculate whether her goals are realistic or unrealistic? It IS our very goals and dreams that keep us training and competing and achieving what others say is “impossible”.
    Training at this level is a huge challenge by itself. Why not set the bar high? Why not go for it? Most important of all, they are Maryline’s goals. We should support her just as we hope others will support us in our own dreams.
    I so respect this woman. I will be cheering for her the whole way, as will her countrymen and countrywomen from the USA and the Ivory Coast.
    You inspire me, Maryline.

  7. Anonymous - October 16, 2009

    Good Luck Mariline.

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    Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. Thumbs up!

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