Ajla continues to shine for her extraordinary performances at the Meetings she has attended in the last weeks, winning the 100 m at the Diamond League in Monaco on August 14th in 11″16, the 100 m in Bydgoszczy on August 19th in 11″18 and the 100 m at the Diamond League in Stockholm on August 23rd in 11″20!
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Do you agree? Let’s get to know this champion together!
What role did your parents play? What about your coaches?
My parents have always pushed my brother and me to do what we liked, giving us their support. My mum had the idea of joining the club (US Ascona – ed.), and she used to drive me to practice in Ascona when I was late. My dad always came to the competitions when he could, and took me to Bern every Wednesday of the month, taking leave from work so that I could train with the relay team. Now that I no longer live at home, they both come to the competitions when they can and are my strength in difficult times. My brother Karim is an important example of dedication and hard work for me, as he too is a hockey player (defender of the Ticino Rockets, under contract with the Club Ambrì-Piotta – ed.) and an elite sportsman.
My club coaches have introduced me to a sport that I love so much. I can never thank them enough. My current coach, Laurent Meuwly, has turned me into a professional sportswoman.
Are you still in contact with your US Ascona coaches?
I often receive messages from them after the competitions, or I ask for news. They are like my second family, so it is always nice to see them at competitions.
Is there a phrase that someone has said to you or a gesture that they have made, that has stuck with you?
After the first indoor competitions in 2016, when I had just started training with Laurent Meuwly, Lea Sprunger told me “Ajletta, write the Rio2016 Olympics appointment in your diary, because you will be there too”. For a 19-year-old girl who has dreamt of the Olympics her whole life, hearing a sentence like that from someone who has always been an example to me was really exciting… and seeing it come true a few months later taught me a lot.
A sentence or a motto to encourage you?
Phrases change a lot, I have to say that it’s the songs that help me the most.
How were your days until a few months ago when you were also training for Tokyo 2020?
Until the autumn semester ended, I was divided between studies (Ajla is attending the Master in History and Italian at UNIL where she has just been awarded the Prix de l’Université de Lausanne 2020 – ed.) and training. I often train twice a day and have to carve out a moment for university, recovery, my friends and family. It’s a very hectic life but with the right balance it feels good.
How did your habits change during lockdown? And your trainings?
During lockdown, as for everyone, the rhythm has slowed down. I used to train with the same frequency but I had more time to dedicate to my family and myself.
Is there an object or a place you are particularly fond of?
I become more fond of places. Bignasco, where I grew up, is the only place I feel like calling home, and it is where my grandparents live. And the town where my mother grew up, Jajce, in Bosnia, is one of my favourite places too.
When you are in Ticino, do you go back to training where you used to run when you were just starting out?
When I am in Ticino I train between Ascona and Tenero. So I go back to the place where it all started. Sometimes I meet the new recruits and it’s fun to talk to them… it makes you smile to see them not listening to the coaches as we used to do.
When you are away from home to train or compete, what do you miss most?
In recent years, when I have often been away for long periods, I have missed seeing my family very much. During this emergency caused by the COVID-19, I have been at home longer than all my short visits in the last 4 years combined.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a booklover, so I like to study and read. When I have time I more than willingly go to the museum to see an exhibition that interests me, and I dedicate myself to my friends and family.
The third part of the interview will be published in the fourth week of September.