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“We can achieve more than we ever dreamed possible”

In the coming weeks, anyone with a keen interest in the new Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron will also meet the long jump world champion and winner of gold in Tokyo. We talked to the athlete about sustainability, the power of sport and her commitment to creating a brighter future.

09/29/2021 Text: Nadine Kaminski – Photo: Jules Esick    Video: Bruce St. Clair Reading Time: 5 min

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Malaika Mihambo, gold medalist in Tokyo.
Long jump world champion Malaika Mihambo won gold in Tokyo and already has her sights set on new goals.

Ms. Mihambo, you once said that your potential is far from exhausted. As a top athlete, how do you manage to keep improving?

My training regime has clearly defined objectives - increasing speed, improving strength and refining technique. I don’t set any specific goals in terms of performance, though. Instead, I like to surprise myself. If you impose limits on yourself like that, you’ll struggle later to shake them off and push past them.

 

Your foundation Malaikas Herzsprung (Malaika’s jump start) has a specific goal - eliminating financial barriers to fostering the social and sporting development of elementary school children. What led you to set up the foundation?

After winning at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, I started working with children by teaching a sports and games class at my old elementary school. Then, during the coronavirus pandemic, I created an online project that let me extend opportunities to lots of children with video training sessions and give them some perspective in the crisis.

 

Why is this something you are so passionate about?

I love children. They are so positive and curious about the world. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world when you spend time with kids. That’s what makes it so exciting. I’ll be happy with my foundation’s work when more kids get to enjoy what it offers. Sport not only develops motor skills, but also teaches you a lot about yourself, including setting goals, maintaining discipline and focus as well as interacting with others.

“If you impose limits on yourself, you’ll struggle later to shake them off and push past them.”

Malaika Mihambo

Malaika Mihambo stretching.
Getting uptight doesn’t help. Sometimes you just have to let go. As the two-time German Sportswoman of the Year explains, being driven should not mean being intractable: “I also like to surprise myself.”

 

How has sport shaped your personality?

Sport is such an incredible sandbox for personal exploration and growth at all levels because it provides lots of answers about who you are and who you want to be. As for me, I’ve discovered that I’m a pretty ambitious person. For me personally, ambition takes the form of always doing my best, continually striving to improve and push ahead. In other words, my ambition can only have an impact if it comes from within me. And I feel just as happy for others when they succeed.

 

You’re a role model, especially for young girls. What advice would you like to give them?

Whatever your age, I think it’s important to get to grips with your true nature - to get to know and appreciate yourself. Once we learn to accept ourselves as we are and reflect on what we want out of life, we can chart a way forward individually and achieve greater things than we ever dreamed possible.

 

In addition to ranking among the world’s elite long jumpers, you’re also a successful sprinter, you play the piano and are currently completing a master’s degree. What motivates you to take on new challenges time and again?

Trying out new things allows me to start a new process of self-discovery and expand my identity. It means I can push back old boundaries and reach for new horizons.

Since you’re studying environmental science, you are already very much in touch with forward-thinking ideas and sustainability, plus you supported the Four Rings’ launch of the all-electric Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron. What paradigm shifts would you like to see in society?

I would like to see us move toward a new way of coexisting in society - one where we all not only live peacefully, sustainably and mindful of our impact on the future - but above all, where we pull together and take matters into hand. My vision is a society which puts people and humanity first.

 

How do you protect the environment and practice sustainability on a daily basis?

I try to pay attention to the little things in everyday life, such as traveling by bicycle whenever possible and not buying water in plastic bottles. What’s more, I eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, shop for regional, organic produce and try to avoid air travel, for instance, to training camps. I also use a green electricity provider and am careful to consume water and other resources sparingly.

 

Talking about actively shaping the future, you once said that in order to become a world champion, you have to already visualise yourself as one. Did you also envision becoming a gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, or what was the secret to your success there?

Because of the problems I was having with my run-up, I couldn’t see myself as a favourite to win or consider gold for a long time before going to Tokyo. It was only in June and at the event in Tokyo that I regained my confidence and belief in my ability to win the gold medal in the final.

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Malaika Mihambo

Track and field athlete Malaika Mihambo competes in both sprint and long jump - the latter being the discipline in which she won gold in Tokyo. Before that, she had already clinched the title at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar. That same year, the 27-year-old was named Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year and claimed the title again in 2020. In addition to competitive sports, Malaika is a passionate social activist. The political science graduate is completing her master’s in environmental science and is dedicated to helping children through her foundation Malaikas Herzsprung (Malaika’s jump start).

There’s no finish line for progress. Watch the clip of Malaika Mihambo and the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron here.

The Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron and long jump world champion and Tokyo gold medalist, Malaika Mihambo

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Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 17.9–15.6 kWh/100km (NEDC); 20.9–16.6 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

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