BY: Michelle Liew
Known to many for its annual Dakar Rally and being the hometown of Akon, Senegal is also home to one of the most promising jockeys. Fallou Diop is the country’s youngest jockey at the age of 19 and aspires to achieve international glory.
Diop won Senegal’s top prize a couple of years ago and continues to aim high to realise his dream of racing in France. Zohra Bensemra of Reuters managed to document Diop’s training as he prepares to tackle greater heights in his blooming career.
In Senegal, horses, donkeys and mules are commonly used as a means of transportation and agriculture, a sector which dominates the nation’s economy. Since horses are integral to the daily lives of Senegalese people, racing has soon grown into a national sport.
“The elders taught us everything since we were young. And that’s how I became passionate about horses. Since my grandfather, we’ve supported horses, then my father after him,” Diop says as quoted from BBC.
Diop dropped out of school at the age of 12, leaving a tailoring apprenticeship behind to pursue his passion for horse racing. His bold choice garnered the support of his family and his father immediately enrolled him in the nearest training programme. He and other jockeys are taught by Adama Bao in Bao’s generational stud farm.
Coming from a large family of 12, horse racing means much more than just a hobby for the Niaga native. With victory prizes up to $600 (RM2433.90) per race, he managed to provide a new roof for their home.
“When I start riding, I get a bit stressed. But after a moment, it’s over. At the time of the race, I’m only thinking of victory.”
Diop’s determination is truly admirable and shows us that no matter what happens, never give up on your dreams!
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