Jolien Boumkwo is an athlete representing Belgium in shot-put, hammer throw, and 100 meters hurdles. She is also a member of Racing Gent, a prominent sports club based in Ghent, and is currently ranked 56 in women’s shot-put; 4279 in women’s overall ranking.
Jolien, a Belgian athlete of Cameroonian descent, recently made an international headline for her unplanned appearance in the 100 meters women’s hurdle race in the European Championship in Poland.
The shot-put and hammer champion showed true team spirit at the European Championship by replacing her injured team members. Jolien stepped outside her scheduled events in the tournament and ran the 100-meter hurdle race to save her team from disqualification after two of her teammates pulled out due to injury.
According to Reuters, the team would have been disqualified if no Belgian athlete had competed in the event. The 29-year-old Belgian athlete started the race and cautiously went over the hurdles without knocking down any of them to avoid a point deduction, and finished the race in 32.82 seconds, 19 seconds behind the second-to-last sprinter. Spanish athlete – Teresa Errandonea, however, won the race with a time of 13.22 seconds.
“I was really excited to see how many seconds or minutes I did during the race. It was less than [one minute] so I’m proud of myself,” Jolien joked after glancing at the clock to see her finish time.
The Belgian-Cameroonian athlete was all smiles and danced excitedly at the start of the race; carefully clearing all the hurdles, and got 2 points for her team. Her performance video has gone viral since then, attracting commendations and praise.
“I was just so excited because I saw my coach and she was really smiling as well,” she said. “When I was young, it [hurdle race] was never my favorite event because it was a bit scary for me. I really like it that people are picking it up – that this is about team playership – team spirit,” she added.
The Belgian shot-putter received massive support from the audience in the arena as they cheered and applauded her.
“I was like: it would be a pity if we lose by just one point, so I will just take this on my account and just go for it and enjoy every moment,” said Jolien. “For me, that’s important as well when you’re doing sports at a high level. I checked with my coach if there were any risks for me doing it and he gave me a green light.”
“I’m really happy that this race symbolized something – the team spirit, the team playership – and that people from different situations – professionals, non-professionals, people who are not into sports – really see it and it really connects people,” she said.
Reacting to her viral video, Jolien, who has emerged as the ‘Hero’ of the European Championship, said, “In my head, it looks a bit more elegant than what I’ve seen on the video, but it could be worse as well,” she said
“I have never been this famous before … It’s really crazy. All the nice messages – it’s unbelievable. I’m really surprised … I hope that I can still enjoy this moment for a long time.”
Jolien Boumkwo was born on August 27, 1992, in Ghent, Belgium, to a Cameroonian father and a Belgian mother.