18th African Senior Athletics Championships-High jump gold medallist Labiche returns home to hearty welcome


Minister Mondon congratulates Labiche and presents her with a basket of flowers

Lissa Labiche had all the reasons to be happy as she is the number one women’s high jumper on the African continent after clinching the gold medal at the 18th African Senior Athletics Championships, held in Porto-Novo, Benin last week.

The 19-year-old was greeted upon arrival by Education minister Macsuzy Mondon who gave her a basket of flowers. National Sports Council and Seychelles Athletics Federation representatives were also present to congratulate her on her achievement and welcome her home along with the rest of the Seychelles team.

Runner-up two years back with a bar of 1.70m in Nairobi, Kenya, Labiche registered a dominant performance with a height of 1.86m – a new Seychelles record – at the Charles de Gaulle stadium on June 30.

“This gold medal represents a lot for me,” said Labiche as she holds her medal.
“I went into the competition fully aware that I was second two years ago and I displayed the will to better this position. I was focused on what I had to do, but I did not expect to better the Seychelles record. This is the second time I’ve improved the Seychelles high jump best mark inside a month,” said Labiche, who had set the old 1.85m best during the National Championships at Stad Popiler.

In Porto-Novo, Labiche had to fight off the challenge of South African Anika Smit. She started the competition at 1.75m and cleared the height with her first jump and did the same at 1.80m. After skipping at 1.83m, she cleared 1.86m in one jump to win the women’s high jump gold medal on count-back.

Smit cleared the same height – 1.86m – but had to settle for the runner-up spot and the silver medal as she did it in two jumps. The bronze medal went to Morocco’s Rhizlane Siba for her 1.75m jump.

After sealing the win, Labiche failed all her three attempts at 1.89m, meaning the competition was over as well as her dream of qualifying for the forthcoming XXX Olympic Games in London, England.

“I’m not too disappointed… If I don’t get the chance to go to the London Olympics, I’ll train harder over the next four years to make it to the next Olympiad.

“Right now, my focus is on the 14th IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships in Barcelona, Spain (July 10-15), where I am hoping to challenge the gold medal,” noted Labiche, who leaves the country on Monday for Barcelona.

Only the third Seychellois African Senior Athletics Championships gold medallist after male triple jumper Paul Nioze in the 10th championships in 1996 in Douala, Cameroon, and female javelin thrower Lindy Leveau-Agricole in the 11th championships in 1998 in Dakar, Senegal, former Young Female Athlete of the Year Labiche added that “I am very happy with what I’ve achieved at a very young age.”

Labiche was ranked second with a bar of 1.70m at the 17th African Senior Athletics Championship held at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, two years ago.

G. G.