From Comoros Islands, An Olympian Clears Hurdles On And Off The Track

For all the superstar athletes at the Rio Olympics — the ones with cushy endorsement deals and worldwide fame — there are many more who never find the limelight, who will never even come close to getting a medal.

They compete for the sheer honor of it. For national pride. And for reasons all their own.

Among that group is a hurdler with a remarkable backstory.

I happened to find Maoulida Daroueche at the Olympic athletes village. He was wearing a green and white track suit with "Comoros" in red letters across the back, and we got to talking in English and French.

"Each athlete has his own story," he told me. "So this is my story. Voilà!"

Daroueche is one of just four athletes competing in Rio from the Comoros, a tiny Indian Ocean archipelago off the southeast coast of Africa.

"We are a small country," Daroueche says, "so we need to show [our] best, to give the best part of us, even though we don't have the really, really high level. We need to show the world that we exist also."

Daroueche, 25, will compete Monday in the 400-meter hurdles. His best time in the event wouldn't be fast enough to qualify him for the Olympics, but each sport allows slots for top athletes from small countries.

"Deep down inside me," he says, "no matter what I do, I can't forget where I come from."

This is the second Olympics for Daroueche; he competed in London in 2012 and was eliminated in the first round.

It's a remarkable achievement for anyone, but especially so when you consider the obstacles that once stood in Daroueche's way.

For starters, in the Comoros, there is no track to practice on.

Instead, as a child, he would go outside and run for miles on the beach.

"As a Comorian," he tells me, "the easiest thing is to run long distance, because you don't need equipment. You can just run."

For Daroueche, maybe running provided a way to escape a difficult childhood.

He gets a faraway look when I ask him about his life growing up.

"My childhood?" he replies. "That's a part of my life that I try to forget."

But bit by bit, his story comes out.

Daroueche tells me he doesn't know anything about his father.

"He was never there when I needed him. For me, it's really sad. But," he shrugs, "it doesn't matter."

His mother had eight children, two of whom died young. She was struggling to raise the rest on her own.

Daroueche was the oldest, and he left his home when he was just 8 years old.

"You just learn how to manage on your own," he says.

His main goal each day was to find something to eat and a place to sleep.

"Where I come from," he says, "you really don't need a house to sleep in. So we slept everywhere." He would forage for food in the fields.

His running prowess got him noticed. He won cross-country races in school, and when he was 15, he got a break that would change his life. A gym teacher offered him the chance to go live and study in the south of France: a country that Comorians imagined as El Dorado.

Daroueche took that chance. A French family took him in.

In France, everything was different. He no longer had to scrounge for food. He wasn't hungry all the time.

In school, he started running track, and this young man who had overcome so many obstacles found he excelled at hurdles.

He pushed himself through high school and college "to assure my future," he says, "and so my children don't have the same life that I had."

Still, life as an immigrant in France was hard.

He battled constant visa problems. Everything was expensive. To pay the rent, he found jobs as a deliveryman and a garbage collector. Sometimes, he'd work until 4 in the morning and have to be at school just a few hours later.

With such a punishing schedule, it was hard to find time to train in his sport.

But he persevered. "It builds character," he tells me.

Now, this Comorian who has built a new life in Salon-de-Provence, France, has earned his master's degree in computer science and won a spot in the Olympics.

"That's why I'm really, really happy to be here," he tells me. "Because every time I think about what I have done before to come here — even though I'm not one of those in the hunt for a medal — knowing everything I've gone through, just to be here is already a victory."

If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
Auteur
(0 rate)
Exposition
(0 rate)
Actualité
(0 rate)
I recommend
Il n y a pas encore de recommandations

Commentaires

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Politique
La France a appelé aujourd'hui «l'ensemble des acteurs politiques» comoriens à la «plus grande retenue» et au «dialogue», après les violences liées à la réélection contestée du président Azali Assoumani. Paris «invite les autorités comoriennes, ainsi que l'ensemble des autres acteurs politiques, à faire preuve de la plus grande retenue et à régler leur différend par un dialogue inclusif», a déclaré la porte-parole du ministère français des Affaires étrangè...
Société
Le 30e sommet arabe ordinaire s’est déroulé à Tunis alors que la région traverse un contexte difficile avec notamment des crises qui secouent de nombreux pays comme le Yémen, la Syrie et la Libye pour ne citer qu’eux. Les peuples arabes s’attendaient au moins à une réaction digne de ce nom après la récente décision du président américain Donald Trump de reconnaître la souveraineté de l’Etat sioniste sur le Golan syrien occupé. Cependant, les dirigeants ara...
Société
Les Comores sont toujours dans l’attente des résultats définitifs de la présidentielle du 24 mars. C’est la Cour suprême qui doit les proclamer. Après un scrutin contesté, le président Azali avait été déclaré vainqueur avec 60 % des voix par la Commission électorale. L’attente se vit dans un climat tendu depuis les violences, le jour du scrutin, et l’attaque du camp militaire de Kandani qui a fait trois morts. Par RFI
Politique
"Ces derniers jours, les Comores ont été le théâtre de graves tensions politiques et des actes de violence occasionnant des pertes en vies humaines. Ils font suite aux élections tenues le 24 et marquées, selon la déclaration conjointe des missions internationales d’observation électorale, par des irrégularités importantes mettant en doute la transparence et crédibilité du scrutin.   Face à cette situation, il importe que les autorités comoriennes ainsi que...
Politique
Le gouvernement comorien, représenté par le ministre de l’Intérieur, porte-parole du gouvernement, Mohamed Daoudou, le directeur de cabinet du président de la République chargé de la Défense, Youssoufa Mohamed Ali, et le secrétaire d’État chargé de la Coopération internationale, Djoumoi Saïd Abdallah, a rencontré tous les ambassadeurs, consuls et représentants des organismes internationaux accrédités à Moroni, en début de la journée du vendredi 29 mars der...
Société
Près de 2000 comoriens manifestent en ce moment Porte d'Aix à Marseille pour protester contre la réélection du colonel Azali à la tête du pays. Une réélection entachée d'irrégularités.   Le Collectif des Comoriens de l'extérieur a appelé l'ensemble de la communauté à manifester pour dire non à "la dictature du colonel Azali aux Comores". A Marseille ou réside la plus importante communauté de comoriens de France, ils sont 2000 actuellement rassemblés porte...
Politique
TUNIS, 31 mars 2019 (TAP)- Mohamed El-Amine Souef, ministre comorien des Affaires étrangères et de la Coopération internationale a déclaré, dimanche, à Tunis, que la région arabe vit une conjoncture délicate qui nécessite une intervention urgente de la part des dirigeants arabes pour faire face aux menaces à la sécurité et pour réaliser les aspirations des peuples à la prospérité.   Il a appelé les leaders arabes, dans son discours prononcé à l'occasion a...
Société
La majorité cherche à faire monter la pression autour du CNT. Le directeur de campagne du président Azali a lancé, ce samedi 30 mars, de graves accusations contre l’organisation d’opposition. Selon Houmed Msaidie, le mouvement serait coupable de complot afin de renverser le pouvoir, notamment pour avoir synchronisé, jeudi, l’évasion du commandant Faissoal Abdou Salam, l’attaque du camp militaire de Kandani ainsi que l’intrusion d’individus à l’ambassade de...
Société
Des comoriens de la diaspora manifestent à MarseilleHabarizacomores Cliquez ici pour voir la vidéo https://www.facebook.com/COMORES24.France/videos/975406149328188/