Nafi is a world class heptathlete born and raised in Namur, Belgium who’ll spend the next decade competing for international honours. The now 23-year-old geography undergraduate, who has Senegalese ties, enjoyed some early-career attention when breaking Carolina Kluft’s indoor world junior record in the pentathlon and claiming the gold medal at the European Athletics Junior Championships in 2013. She placed 14th in the heptathlon at the World Championships in Moscow and concluded the 2012-2013 athletics season ranked as the #1 junior in the world.
Since then Thiam made a rapid rise from a promising junior to one of the world’s best. 2014 started with a huge improvement of the Belgian national record, scoring 6.508 points at the Hypomeeting in Götzis. Later that year, Thiam stunningly grabbed bronze at the European Championships in Zürich. Without hesitation, she then continued her medal haul in 2015, winning the silver medal at the European indoor championships in Prague and placing second in the high jump at the European U23 Championships.
The youngster created her momentum at the 2016 Rio Olympics, breaking personal best after personal best, producing the performance of a lifetime where she had the top marks in three of the seven events, claiming gold in the iconic heptathlon. Her Olympic gold has undoubtedly elevated the Belgian to a new level where she has the potential to become one of the greatest multi-eventers of all time. At the end of 2016 she was voted European and World Female Rising Star of the Year.
On the back of an extraordinary 2016, Nafi went on to show brilliant form early on in 2017, claiming her first European indoor title in the women’s pentathlon, racking up 4870 points, moving her to 10th on the world indoor all-time pentathlon list. She then made the Forbes 30 under 30 list for Europe accompanied by other global sports personalities such as Gareth Bale, Angelique Kerber and Luis Suarez. Making her one of Europe’s most promising young game-changers according to Forbes.
In May 2017, Nafi shot to third on the world all-time list with her 7013 heptathlon victory at the Hypo Meeting in Götzis, the highest score in the world for 10 years and also a meeting record. Her record-breaking performance in Götzis confirmed Rio was no fluke.
Carrying a new-found confidence and not fazed by the pressure of going into the IAAF World Championships in London as favourite, the multi event standout delivered yet another world-class heptathlon, amassing a total of 6.784 points and adding the world crown to her accolades. Her status as one of the biggest talents in the sport further cemented.
A meteoric rise to athletics stardom and inspiring the next generation is a theme that has stretched through Nafi’s life over the past 18 months. She is one of the rising stars of the sport: young, marketable and one of only four heptathletes to break the magic 7000-point barrier.
Following an outstanding 2017 campaign, Nafi was voted Female Athlete of the Year and was presented the trophy by International Athletics Foundation (IAF) Honorary President HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The heptathlon is by far the most challenging and prestigious event track and field has to offer. That’s why multi-eventers are considered the ultimate and most versatile athletes of modern sports. Heptathletes take on 7 events over two days and spend over 12 hours a day at the track. Each heptathlon competition is a true battle of the fittest with the final 800m as the ultimate mental hurdle pushing the athletes beyond their limits. It’s because of their extreme hard work, perseverance and charisma, multi-eventers are considered the greatest athletes in the world. The coming years, this attrition of running, throwing and jumping will be the biggest challenge for Nafi in search of the title of most complete athlete.
- 2017 Female Athlete of the Year
- 2017 World Champion heptathlon
- 2016 Olympic Champion Heptathlon
- National recordholder heptathlon
- 2017 European Athletics indoor Championships – gold medalist
- 2015 IAAF World championships – 11th
- 2015 European Athletics U23 Championships – silver medalist (high jump)
- 2015 European Athletics indoor Championships – silver medalist
- 2014 European Athletics Championships – bronze medalist
- 2013 IAAF World Championships – 14th place
- 2013 European Athletics Junior Championships – gold medalist
- 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships – 6th place
- 2012 ranked 4th on the European Athletics Junior ranking
- 2011 World Youth Championships – 4th place
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