Australian born Sasha Zhoya proud of his Zimbabwean roots as he wins the 110m hurdles in France

Sasha Zhoya: Celebrating Zimbabwean Roots and Making His Mark in Track and Field

Sasha Zhoya, a 22-year-old French athlete with Zimbabwean roots, has been making waves in the track and field world with his remarkable talent and achievements.

His recent victory in the men’s 110m hurdles at the Diamond League meeting in Paris, where he finished in an impressive 13.15 seconds, has cemented his status as a rising star in the athletic realm.

Zhoya’s pride in his Zimbabwean heritage and his outstanding performance against tough competition from American Trey Cunningham have captured the attention and admiration of sports enthusiasts worldwide.

© 510 Paris/Red Bull Content Pool
Sasha Zhoya

Born in Subiaco, a suburb of Perth, Australia in 2002, Sasha Zhoya is a product of his French mother, elite skier Catherine Larbiose-Zhoya, and Zimbabwean father, musician Yonah Zhoya. This diverse heritage has endowed him with triple Franco-Australian-Zimbabwean nationality, reflecting the rich cultural tapestry that shapes his identity.

Also Read: Zimbabwean woman Nicolle Ndiweni elected police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Derbyshire

Growing up in Australia, Zhoya’s passion for sports was ignited at a young age. Joining the Melville Little Athletics club at the age of eight, where his mother served as a coach, provided him with the platform to explore his athletic potential. It was within this competitive environment, spurred by his older sister Manashe, that Zhoya first discovered his aptitude for track and field, ultimately leading to a string of victories and accolades.

As he transitioned into his teenage years, Zhoya set his sights on elevating his athletic pursuits to a professional level. Participation in national competitions proved to be a pivotal turning point in his career, propelling him to work tirelessly and elevate his performance. Recounting this transformative period, Zhoya emphasized the impact of intensified training and dedication on his journey to excellence.

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool
© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

While Sasha Zhoya’s international standing undoubtedly reflects his formidable talent, his decision to represent France competitively was a significant milestone with personal and cultural significance. Reflecting on this decision, Zhoya acknowledged the complexity of choosing between his Australian upbringing and his French heritage. Ultimately, his deep connection to his mother’s country, France, and the prospect of competing in the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympics weighed heavily in his decision-making process.

“It was a very hard decision. I was born and raised in Australia and there was a huge part of me that I know is very Australian, but I was raised by a French mother and a lot of me was culturally a French person.”
“The decision was … complex,” he continued, “I wanted to represent myself and my family and the easiest way to do that was to represent my mum because she was more forward in raising me.”
He added: “Plus Paris 2024 is a home Games and not many athletes can say that! Just because I represent France, though, doesn’t mean I feel any less Australian or Zimbabwean.”

Despite his commitment to representing France on the global stage, Zhoya remains unwavering in his affirmation of his Australian and Zimbabwean heritage. His words underscore the deep attachment he maintains to his cultural roots, emphasizing that his choice to represent France does not diminish his profound connection to his familial and ancestral origins.

Looking to the future, Zhoya’s dedication to his Zimbabwean roots extends beyond the realm of athletic competition. Expressing his willingness to spend time in Zimbabwe after the Olympics as a testament to his enduring bond with the country, Zhoya’s sentiments encapsulate his profound appreciation for his heritage and the desire to further connect with his Zimbabwean identity outside of the athletic arena.

Sasha Zhoya’s journey exemplifies the intersection of sports, heritage, and identity, serving as an inspirational figure for aspiring athletes and individuals navigating the complexities of cultural identity. As he continues to make his mark in the track and field world, Zhoya’s unwavering pride in his Zimbabwean roots and his multicultural heritage resonates as a testament to the transformative power of sports in shaping personal narratives and fostering inclusivity on a global scale.

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