Nafissatou Thiam
Nafi Thiam Belgrade 2017.jpg
Personal information
Born (1994-08-19) 19 August 1994 (age 28)[1]
Brussels, Belgium[1][2]
Height1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)[1]
Weight69 kg (152 lb)[1]
Event(s)Heptathlon, Pentathlon
Coached byMichael Van der Plaetsen (2022–)[3]
Roger Lespagnard (2008–2022)
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

Nafissatou "Nafi" Thiam (French pronunciation: ​[tʃam]; born 19 August 1994) is a Belgian athlete specializing in multi-event competition. Thiam is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning the heptathlon event at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics. She is the only Belgian athlete, male or female, to successfully defend an Olympic title and only the second woman after Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the event.[4]

She won the gold medals at the 2017 and 2022 World Championships and 2018 and 2022 European Championships as well as the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships. She was voted IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2017. She was a Belgian flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In May 2017, at the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis, Austria, she became only the fourth woman to break the heptathlon 7000 point-barrier.[5]

As of October 2022, Thiam holds the Belgian records in women's heptathlon, women's javelin and women's long jump (out and indoor). She set a new world record for the high jump discipline within a women's heptathlon competition in 2019.

Junior career

Nafissatou Thiam was born in Brussels to a Belgian mother and Senegalese father. She started participating in athletics when she was seven years old, winning her first national age group titles in 2009, by which time she was already specializing in the heptathlon. Her favorite athlete at the time was Swedish heptathlete Carolina Klüft.[6]

At the 2011 World Youth Championships in Athletics in Lille, France, Thiam finished fourth in the heptathlon with a total of 5366 points. Then, as a first-year junior, she finished 14th at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Athletics in the heptathlon with a total of 5384 points.

On 3 February 2013, Thiam broke the junior indoor world record in the pentathlon at a meeting in Ghent with a total of 4558 points, breaking her personal best in 4 of the 5 events.[7] Carolina Klüft, who later became Olympic champion and triple world champion, had held the record since 2002 with 4535 points. In doing so Thiam became the first Belgian female athlete to break a world record.[8] However, in March 2013, the record was not ratified due to a lack of anti-doping control on the day it was achieved. The testing took place the next day, which was beyond the deadline specified by the IAAF, athletics' international governing body.[9]

On 18 July 2013, Thiam won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the European Junior Athletics Championships, achieving a new Belgian record of 6298 points.

Senior career

2014, she won the bronze medal at the European Championships in Heptathlon.

2015, she won the silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in Pentathlon and at the European U23 Championships in High Jump.

On 13 August 2016, Thiam won the gold medal in heptathlon at the Olympic Games in Rio with 6810 points, achieving personal best marks in five of the seven disciplines and defeating reigning Olympic and World Champion Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.[10] She was the youngest Olympic heptathlon gold medalist in history.[11][12] She was elected Belgian flag bearer at the Olympic closing ceremony.[13]

On 3 March 2017, Thiam won the pentathlon at the 2017 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade with a total of 4870 points.

On 28 May 2017, Thiam won the heptathlon at the Hypo-Meeting in Götzis, Austria with a total of 7013 points, again achieving personal best scores in five of the seven disciplines, making her the fourth woman to score 7000 points or higher in competition. As of July 2017, Thiam is third on the all-time list behind Jackie Joyner-Kersee of USA and Carolina Klüft. Her 59.32m Javelin throw in the Hypo-Meeting heptathlon in Götzis broke the Belgian record for the women's individual event.[14]

On 6 August 2017, Thiam went into the Athletics World Championships in London as hot favorite, winning the heptathlon world title and becoming the first Belgian to win a World Athletics Championships gold medal.[15]

On 10 August 2018, she won the gold medal at the 2018 European Championships, becoming only the third woman to win Olympic Games, World and European Championships in heptathlon, after Carolina Klüft and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

On 27 June 2019, Thiam won the heptathlon competition at the 2019 Decastar in Talence, setting a women's heptathlon high jump world record of 2.02m.[16]

On 2 October 2019, Thiam again went into the World Championships as world lead, and favourite for gold, but was expected to face stronger competition than in 2017 from erstwhile rival and 2018 European runner-up, Great Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson. In the event, Thiam succumbed to an elbow injury that hindered her javelin, while Johnson-Thompson recorded a huge personal best of 6981 points, a national record and the sixth highest competition score in history to win comfortably. Thiam's performance was still good enough for the silver medal.

On 5 March 2021, Thiam won the pentathlon at the 2021 European Indoor Championships in Torun with a total of 4904 points.[17]

On 5 August 2021 she won her second gold medal at the Olympic Games with a total of 6791 points.

On 18 July 2022 she won her second gold medal at the 2022 World Athletics Championships with a total of 6947 points.[18]

Thiam is a member of RFCL Athlétisme, an athletics club operating under the aegis of the Technical and Sports Department of the Royal Football Club de Liège. She was coached by Belgian former decathlete Roger Lespagnard[19] for 14 years but she put an end to their collaboration in October 2022.[20]

Besides being a professional athlete, Thiam studied geography at the University of Liège.[21] "I like climatology, I like geomorphology – how the earth is shaped by rivers. A lot of subjects, like a heptathlon. Maybe that's why I love it." she said.[22] She graduated from university with a bachelor degree in September 2019.[23]

Thiam is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF Belgium.[24]

Championship podiums

Olympic Games

World Championships

European Championships

Belgian National Championships

Career achievement summary

2 x Olympic champion
2 x World champion
2 x European champion
1 x European Championships Bronze medallist
2 x European Indoor champion
1 x in Top 8 at World Indoor Championships
1 x European Indoor Championships Silver medallist
1 x European Junior champion
1 x in Top 8 at European Championships
1 x European U23 Championships Silver medallist
2 x Diamond League meeting winner
1 x in Top 8 at European Indoor Championships
1 x European Team Championships 1st League winner
3 x National champion
5 x National Indoor champion[25]

Personal bests

Event Performance Points Venue Date Notes
100 metres hurdles 13.21 s 1093 United States Eugene, USA 17 July 2022
High jump 2.02 m 1264 France Talence, France 22 June 2019 [n 1]
Shot put 15.41 m 888 France Talence, France 22 June 2019
200 metres 24.37 s 945 Belgium Gaurain-Ramecroix, Belgium 18 May 2019
Long jump 6.86 m 1125 United Kingdom Birmingham, Great Britain 18 August 2019 NR
Javelin throw 59.32 m 1041 Austria Götzis, Austria 28 May 2017 NR
800 metres 2:13.00 921 United States Eugene, USA 18 July 2022
Heptathlon 7013 pts Total: 7277 Austria Götzis, Austria 28 May 2017 NR
Event Performance Points Venue Date Notes
60 metres hurdles 8.23 s 1077 Serbia Belgrade, Serbia 3 March 2017
High jump 1.96 m 1184 Serbia Belgrade, Serbia 3 March 2017
Shot put 15.52 m 896 France Eaubonne, France 9 February 2018
Long jump 6.79 m 1102 France Liévin, France 1 March 2020 NR
800 metres 2:18.80 840 Poland Torun, Poland 5 March 2021
Pentathlon 4904 pts Total: 5099 Poland Torun, Poland 5 March 2021

Honours and awards

In 2017, Thiam officially became UNICEF Ambassador.[37]


  1. ^ a b c d Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Nafi Thiam". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Page 12 Nafissatou Thiam" (PDF). Ligue Belge Francophone d'Athlétisme. 15 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Thiam to target scores and records in the next chapter of her career". European Athletics. 2 November 2022. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium reigns supreme in Olympic heptathlon". 2021. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Thiam breaks 7000 barrier in Gotzis". European Athletics. 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  6. ^ "Thiam Nafissatou" (PDF) (in French). Ligue belge francophone d'athlétisme. 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  7. ^ Vande Weyer, Philippe (3 February 2013). "Nafissatou Thiam bat le record du monde junior du pentathlon indoor". Le Soir. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  8. ^ Jacobs, Hans (5 February 2013). "Is de nieuwe Tia Hellebaut opgestaan?". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Le record du monde junior de Nafissatou Thiam, établi à Gand, ne sera pas homologué". Le Soir (in French). 20 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Nafi Thiam kroont zich tot olympisch kampioene op de zevenkamp" (in Dutch). Sporza. 2016. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam". Red Bull. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  12. ^ "About". Nafi Thiam. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  13. ^ "The Flagbearers for the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony". 21 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam". Red Bull. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam". Red Bull. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  16. ^ "A new record for Nafissatou Thiam". Focus on Belgium. 27 June 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Thiam regains European indoor pentathlon title with world-leading 4904". World Athletics. 5 March 2021. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Rojas, Kipyegon and Thiam add to their legendary status in Oregon". World Athletics. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Thiam Nafissatou" (PDF). Ligue belge francophone d'athlétisme. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  20. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam se sépare de son coach historique Roger Lespagnard". Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam cumule les récompenses !". Université de Liège. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Nafi Thiam a son diplôme en poche : "Désormais je me consacre entièrement à l'athlé"". La Libre. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  24. ^ "About". Nafi Thiam. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  25. ^ "Nafissatou THIAM". Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Nafissatou Thiam sacrée étoile montante européenne" (in French). 2010.
  27. ^ "Jonathan Borlée en Nafissatou Thiam winnen Gouden Spike" (in Dutch). Het Nieuwsblad. 4 December 2013.
  28. ^ "8e (!) Gouden Spike voor Nafi Thiam, 2e voor Bashir Abdi" (in Dutch). Sporza. 26 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Nafi Thiam is de 'Belofte van het jaar' van 2013" (in Dutch). AtletiekNieuws. 22 December 2013.
  30. ^ "HERBELEEF hoe Nafi Thiam en David Goffin met de hoofdprijzen gingen lopen op het Sportgala" (in Dutch). Het Laatste Nieuws. 16 December 2017.
  31. ^ a b "Nafissatou Thiam | Connaître la Wallonie" (in French). Connaître la Wallonie. 10 November 2016.
  32. ^ « Nafissatou Thiam remporte le trophée "Rising star" de l'athlé européen », Sport/Foot Magazine, 16 octobre 2016.
  33. ^ "Nafi Thiam désignée "Rising Star" par l'IAAF" (in French). RTBF. 2 December 2016.
  34. ^ "Le trophée du Mérite sportif à Thiam" (in French). RTC Télé Liège. 10 November 2016.
  35. ^ "The 30 Under 30 EUROPE: Youngest". Forbes. 2017.
  36. ^ "Thiam named female World Athlete of the Year at IAAF Athletics Awards". European Athletics. 25 November 2017.
  37. ^ "Stats". Nafi Thiam. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
Olympic Games Preceded byOlivia Borlée Flagbearer for  Belgium (with Félix Denayer)Tokyo 2020 Succeeded byIncumbent
Belgium at the Olympics – Post-war Belgian Olympic champions (women)
Post-war Belgian Olympic medalists in women's athletics