Q&A WITH… CYNTHIA BOLINGO

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Country: Belgium

Profession: Athlete – 400m

Career highlights:

  • 2019 European Indoor Championships- silver medallist
  • 2016 Olympian
  • Outdoors National Record: 300m (36.54)
  • Indoors National Records: 300m (36.69) and 400m (51.62)

Your parents are from the DRC and you often visit Africa, what does your heritage mean to you?

Yes, they are! Actually, I have never been in Africa as a tourist, it’s always about track and field, and mostly for a training camps in order to prepare indoor or summer seasons. The heritage from my Congolese culture means a lot to me. I’m very proud of my parents and proud that I can also speak Lingala quite well. I also read a lot about African history and realized that the side so often focused on is slavery or colonization – but there is so much more to African history than that!  Africa is amazing, and actually, Africa’s history is part of all of our history!

Diversity and representation are an important issue. For you, why is it important to promote inclusion within athletics and society?

I think promoting inclusion shouldn’t be a real issue or problem, it should just be normal to include everybody, because everybody is supposed to represent society. However, regarding track and field there is some inclusivity, but we definitely need to do better.

We read that you are studying towards a Diploma in Social Work. What influenced this choice?

I have always been interested in Sociology. For me, it’s very important to be aware and well-informed about the society in which we live; your social rights, the different help you can get if you have any problem etc. In the future I would like to work with refugees and asylum seekers. I find that this category of people is not sufficiently protected.

You have said you cannot imagine your career being guided by anyone else besides Carole MeBam. Can you tell us what makes this such a special relationship?

I think our relationship is like this because we are more than just athlete-coach or coach-athlete. Carole helps and encourages every single day. She is like a big sister to me. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by her in my athletic career.

What is the best advice you ever received?

If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. This sentence is my mantra.

What is your favourite meal?

Actually, I don’t have a favourite meal. I just like food that is spicy! As long as it is spicy it could be from anywhere it doesn’t matter.

Favourite song?

This question is so difficult for me because every month I have a favourite song. So, I’m going to say the song of the month is Godly by Omah Lay.

Favourite animal?

I have three favourite animals: monkey, tiger, and elephant.

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