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Diaspo #51 : Asma Niang, the judoka who did not like judo

Daughter of a French-Moroccan mother and a Senegalese father, Asma Niang is a four-time champion of Africa judoka. Last week, she won a bronze medal at the Croatia's annual Judo Grand Prix at the Zagreb Arena.

Moroccan-French judoka Asma Niang./Ph. Asma Niang
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On Saturday, 30th of July, Moroccan judoka Asma Niang won a bronze medal under 70kg at the Croatia's annual Judo Grand Prix at the Zagreb Arena. The competition is part of the World Judo Championships scheduled for September in Azerbaijan.

«Winning this medal made me very happy because I am getting ready for September. I am adapting to the arena so I can be well prepared», Asma told Yabiladi.

Born in Mohammedia on January the 4th, 1983, Asma is the daughter of a French-Moroccan mother from Oujda and a Senegalese father from Dakar. Asma Niang went with her parents to France when she was 11 years old. Her early memories of judo are related to the Olympics.

«I've always been good at sports and my dream was to compete in the Olympics, I learned to love judo later», she recalls.

Winning a medal in Tokyo

After practicing several sports, including Handball, Asma Niang finally went for judo when she was 20 years old.

«Judo, unexpectedly, made its way into my life. Unlike all girls in my class, I started it at the age of 20. I had to give up on my career as a firefighter in Paris to wear the colors of my homeland, Morocco».

Asma Niang

«I represent Moroccan, Arab and African women», she proudly announced. Indeed, Asma Niang is currently ranked 7th in the world and first in Africa in her category (under 70kg).

As for her goal, the young sportswoman wants to «perform well at the World Championships in September in Baku, and also the Olympics that will take place in 2019 in Tokyo», she added.

«The Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were a child's dream, but now I want to level up», she said.

The world's second most popular sport

The French-Moroccan judoka believes that judo is «growing» in Morocco. «I sincerely hope that Olympic sports will be as important as other sports in the Kingdom and that we will be able to get athletes ready for competitions four or five months in advance and not always at the last minute», she argued.

«Moroccans are good at judo but sometimes they go unseen. Federations can not work alone. They need support. Winning a medal requires daily support and that's what is missing in Morocco sometimes».

Asma Niang

For Asma, judo is a «very popular sport in Morocco, behind football of course». «There are many judokas in Morocco, but we talk very little about their achievements», she said.

When Asma was young, she looked up at other stars such as «Hicham El Guerouj and Nawala El Moutawakil», getting inspired and having a boost of energy to «break through». «Young Moroccans also have the right to have role models, but we are unknown to the public and that is a shame», she concluded.

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