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Playing fields new Olympics.com documentary series highlights trailblazing African athletes on their road to paris 2024

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3 May 2023 – Playing Fields, a new original six-part documentary series, introduces the new wave of athletes paving the way in their sports across the African continent – discovering their incredible stories of perseverance, optimism and the strength of the human spirit. Produced by the Olympic Channel and documentary studio XTR; and directed by local filmmakers, Playing Fields premieres on 18 May 2023 on Olympics.com.

Athletes from the African continent – set to play host to the next Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in 2026 – continue to inspire the world and shine on the Olympic stage, with 13 National Olympic Committee (NOCs) winning medals at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. As the road to Paris 2024 gets underway, with over 100,000 athletes competing to qualify for 10,500 places, returning Olympians and a group of aspiring champions are setting their sights firmly on realising their Olympic dreams.

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In each of the six episodes, Playing Fields meets these trailblazing Olympians and aspiring Olympians from Burundi, Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and South Africa. Get ready to be inspired by their unique and incredible stories of struggle and success, hear about their hopes and dreams of excelling in their sports, and how they are all united by their determination to make it to sport’s biggest stage, the Olympic Games.

Aya Girard de Langlade Mpali, Gabon
Directed by Matamba Kombila

An incredible story about overcoming adversity – Aya was involved in a boating accident aged 7 which she survived by swimming 6km to the shore. Aya not only returned to the water despite this trauma, but went on to represent her country in swimming at Tokyo 2020 – made even more incredible by the fact that she had no access to an Olympic-sized pool during her preparation.

Ayomide Emmanuel Bello, Nigeria
Directed by Lanre Ojoawo

Ayomide tells her incredible story of how necessity turned into an Olympic dream. When her father died, Ayomide had to drop out of school to paddle the canoe for her family’s fishing business. Applying years of practice and a dedication to finding her rhythm, Ayomide went on to become Nigeria’s top female canoeist, taking part in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games winning multiple gold medals at the African Games and competing in Tokyo 2020. She now has her sights on qualifying for Paris 2024.

Kahlifa Mukadis, Ghana
Directed by Kuukua Eshun and Danielle Blevins

As one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Accra, the Nima district is a tough place in which to grow up. Showing exceptional talent from a young age, Khalifa has juggled school with rigorous training to play for Nima Kings FC. With dreams of turning pro, Khalifa’s journey so far shows what it takes to enter the top echelon of professional football.

Ornella Havyarimana, Burundi
Directed by David Drag

Ornella has broken boundaries by becoming the first and only female boxer in Burundi. Despite the lack of training resources and opportunities that came with this, and her parents not approving of her boxing, she conquered the odds to reach the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. As well as having her eyes set on qualifying for Paris 2024, she travels to villages across the country to inspire the next generation of young girls set to break down barriers.

Manuel Camboma, Angola
Directed by Victor E. Kamwendo  Danielle Blevins

Basketball is the national sport of Angola, but growing up in the neighbourhood of Luanda, Manuel had limited access to basketball equipment. Through hard graft, and despite his parents not supporting his choice to pursue sport, he was spotted by his current coach and now plays for one of Angola’s top clubs, with dreams of reaching the NBA and the Olympics.

Miyanda Maseti, South Africa
Directed by Victor E. Kamwendo

Seventeen-year-old Miyanda was born with a competitive spirit and a need for speed, with her training wheels coming off the same day as she learnt to ride a bike and racing against both boys and girls from a young age. This has led her to become a three-time South African BMX champion and a two-time national champion. Miyanda now has her sights on the Olympic Games.

Miyanda Maseti attended a special first screening of Playing Fields in Durban on Tuesday 2 May. Further screenings are set to be held across the continent.

Playing Fields is streaming now on Olympics.com. Follow the athletes’ journeys at Olympics.com @Olympics #OlympicQualifiers #RoadtoParis2024.

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