Lola Mansour is just 16, but the Belgium athlete showed the poise and confidence of someone much older when she won gold at the Youth Olmypic Games in Singapore.
What separates Lola Mansour’s performance from others during the first three days of judo competition at the Games, is how she won her bouts. In just about each one, she waited until time was running out to deliver the decisive throw. In the gold medal match, with seconds to go in the golden score (overtime), she threw her German opponent for the winning yuko.
There’s a serious measure of confidence that permits an athlete to wait to the very last moment to execute as she did.
A week before the competition, I met with her to find out more about her connection with her sport. Here she is, in her own words:
“When I was 7 years old, I was considered too young to compete and I asked every time my trainer, ‘can I go, can I go?’ and he said no because I was too young. I would cry all the time because I couldn’t do competitions.”
“What I love about judo is that I just feel good in this sport. I’m not very good in the other sports. Swimming is not for me, gymnastics too. In judo, I just feel well. And we learn stuff like discipline and respect and it’s very important.”
“I like watching judo on TV, and I learn from the fights of international senior competitors.”
“What does it mean to compete at the Youth Olympic Games? I think it’s a great honour to represent my country. I’m a little bit sad because we are only two judokas from Belgium who can participate but it’s great. I’m happy, and I think it will be a great experience, and a nice adventure, and it will always stay in my memory.”