By Grant Stoner | The Duquesne Duke
Duquesne track star Mohamed Cisse, a redshirt junior sprinter, will be attending the 2016 Summer Olympic Games not as a spectator, but as a member of Sierra Leone’s national team.
Yet, how is an American citizen from Largo, Md. able to secure a spot on a an African country’s Olympic squad? Well, both of his parents were born in Sierra Leone, which grants him the dual-citizenship required for eligibility.
Family ties are not the only qualifying factors when entering the Olympics, though. Over the past few years, Cisse has been training hard not just in the gym, but on the track and gridiron.
At Largo High School, Cisse ran on the track team for two years while also playing four years on the football squad. Combine that with a few seasons on the baseball team, and it became apparent to Cisse that he possessed a natural affinity for sports.
However, after he transferred to Duquesne from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2013, he focused solely on track and field. His choice has paid off, as evidenced by his recent record-breaking performance at the 2016 Colonial Relays held earlier this month.
“This past weekend I was able to run [a] 47.40, which was a personal best for me and also a school record,” Cisse said.
He acknowledges that a 15-pound weight loss will help give him an extra surge in speed for future races.
A representative of the Sierra Leone Olympic team suggested that Cisse participate in the African National Championships held in South Africa in late June. He will compete in both the 400 and 500-meter relays. According to African Sports Monthly, Cisse must beat a time of 45.4 seconds, which is approximately two seconds less than his personal best, to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in the 400-meter race.
With continued personal training, the South African races in June will further prepare him to ultimately reach this goal
Aside from all of the physical training Cisse must partake in, he still manages to balance his studies as a JMA Digital Media Arts major, along with his social life as a college student.
His fellow friend and athlete, Chris King, can attest to the time-management skills required to be successful both on and off the field. Although King, a star wide receiver for the football team, doesn’t assist Cisse with his Olympic training, he acknowledges that his friend possesses the work ethic necessary to achieve success.
“Athletes have a lot on their plates, usually two workouts per day along with class and homework, maintaining grades and maintaining a social life,” King said. “So it’s important to have a daily schedule or routine that you can stick to in order to accomplish your daily tasks.”
With the continued support of his family, friends and coaches, Cisse can focus on finishing this semester and concentrate on his upcoming qualifying meet in South Africa now that the opportunity to be an Olympian is within reach. Cisse’s years of hard work and persistence have brought him to this stage of his incredible athletic career, and his philosophy for continued success is simple.
“Mentally, [I’m] just trying to take it one step, one race at a time,” Cisse said.