MANKATO, Minn. — To say that sprinter Emmanuel Matadi is well traveled would be an understatement.
Minnesota State’s national champion has had an interesting journey that will culminate in August, as he becomes the first Maverick to compete in the Summer Olympics. Matadi, native of Liberia (a country located on the west African coast), will compete in the 100-meter dash event after setting a Liberian record with a time of 10.14.
Nina Tikkinen, Emila Andersson and David Backes, are former Maverick student-athletes who have competed in the Winter Olympics. Tikkinen was a member of the Finnish women’s hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, while Andersson played with the Swedish women’s hockey team at the 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Backes, the former captain of the St. Louis Blues, represented Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, as well.
Matadi, who moved to Minnesota in sixth grade, has seen success at every level, beginning with a Minnesota state high school championship in the 100m in 2009 at St. Paul Johnson High School. From there, he would go on to claim junior college All-American honors as he competed in the 4x100m and 4×400 relay events in 2011 at the national championship as a member of the track & field teams at Butler (Kan.) Community College.
After a stint at Louisville, Emmanuel made his way to Minnesota State for the 2014-15 season where he rewrote the Maverick record books. In one season Matadi set a pair of indoor records (60m/6.66 & 200m/21.10), to go along with outdoor records in the 100m (10.19) and the 4×100 relay (40.15). His season culminated in a pair of NCAA Division II outdoor track & field championships in the 100m and 200m events.
He’s now preparing to head to Rio de Janeiro where he’ll compete against the best sprinters in the world.
Ten Questions with Emmanuel Matadi
1.How did you arrive at Minnesota State?
I was a transfer from Louisville. One of my best friends – Jared Gillespie – convinced me to take a tour of the school and I really was impressed with Coach Dilling and Coach Parno.
2. What was it like competing with the Mavericks during the 2014-15 season?
It was fun. It was probably the most fun I’ve had in a season. Everyone was so focused and I think that was what helped me win nationals. The team and the coaches were so supportive.
3. What are some of your highlights as a Maverick?
Breaking the school record and winning nationals in the 100 and 200. Winning conference championships.
4. How long have you competed in track and field events?
Since my junior year in high school so probably around 16. I was always a sprinter.
5. Tell us about your connection to Liberia.
I was born in Liberia and my whole family is from Liberia. I came over to the US when I was seven. I lived in California for a few years before moving to Minnesota when I was in sixth grade.
6. What was it like to qualify for the Olympics after setting a new record for Liberia in the 100m?
It was a great feeling. I have been training for so long to get that moment so when it happened it was great.
7. Has reaching the Olympics always been one of your goals since day one or did this come about as you continued to improve?
When I realized how much I was progressing that’s when it became more of a goal. When I got to college it became a real goal.
8. What are you most looking forward to in Rio?
The high-level talent and the competing with the world’s best athletes.
9. Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
My parents (Jacob and Florence). They showed me how to work hard. When they came over to the states they had nothing but they worked hard and I learned from their work ethic.
10. What are your plans after the Olympics conclude?
After the season is over I’ll take a break but I’ll get back to training for the world championships next season and then hopefully get back to the Olympics in 2020.
Congratulations once again Emmanuel Matadi, we are truly proud of you, but Mama Liberia is more proud. #GISELLEMAGAZINE