Super 8 Ambassador: Isabelle Sambou

By United World Wrestling Press

How and when did you get started in wrestling?

As a girl I would wrestle on the sand in traditional wrestling matches between local villages. I started in 1992 and it was natural for me. In 1999 I moved over to Olympic wrestling and took part in my first major competition in 2001.

How do people react when you tell them you are a wrestler?

My life is in wrestling and I am surrounded by wrestling all the time, so for most people it comes as no surprise.

What’s your best memory of wrestling?

Winning my first African Championship in Egypt in 2006.

Who has been the biggest inspiration during your life in wrestling?

I wrestled traditional Senegalese wrestling as a girl in my local village and never knew there were other forms f wrestling. Eveline Diatta was a wrestler from a nearby neighborhood who made the transition from traditional to Olympic and made me believe it was possible.

What’s your favorite thing about wrestling?

The best thing is to implement things you have learned during a match – like executing a move or technique. Every match you learn something new.

What does being part of the Olympic family mean for women’s wrestling?

Being part of the Olympic family ensures that there is financial support available for women and girls, but more importantly that there are opportunities for women on the world’s greatest sporting stage. The Olympic games gave me a dream to reach for.

What advice would you give to girls who want to start wrestling today?

You need to be disciplined and approach your training seriously if you want to be a good wrestler with a long career and ultimately become a champion.

What are your hopes for the future of women’s wrestling?

It’s important that women get more involved off the mat. Your career on the mat can be very shirt so you need to take every opportunity.