Privel Hinkati is a French rower from Benin. He participated, with a lot of hard work, in the Tokyo Olympics last summer, with the Beninese flag on his back.
An extraordinary story and a steel's will. Two words that describe the life of Privel Hinkati. The rower has constantly pushed back his limits in an attempt to achieve his goals. Here is a look at his story, which saw the creation of a rowing federation in Benin, but also the realisation of an Olympic dream.
Rowing and be an ambassador for his country
"Rowing for a big federation like in French or in American one is great, but helping to create a federation from scratch, in Africa, where there is hardly any rowing club is something more exciting and great," Privel confesses. To create, build and perpetuate a sport where it was unknown, that is the "athlete's true dream".
The Beninese rower, born in France, says, "Although I was born and raised in France, near Caen, I was brought up in the Beninese culture. My parents were both born there". His pride can be heard in his words when he talks about his country and the pride he felt when he took part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo last summer for the first time"
The (not so) crazy dream of the Olympics
The Olympics have been a thrill for him since he discovered the sport. He fell in love with it. He was 14 years old and had participated in an activity at a children's centre during the summer holidays. "It took a lot of time and energy to get to Tokyo". Morning, noon and night, it's the same thing over and over again, Privel trains, trains and trains, alone, because rowing alone was his only chance to participate in the Olympics.
"The Olympics were really something extraordinary for me, and the other rowers look at us differently when they know we represent small federations, they say, 'Oh, that guy must have worked a lot to get there", says Privel. His only regret is that his family could not come to the Japanese capital because the travel wasnt probided in Japan
His next goal is the Olympic Games in Paris, where he hopes to have better results than in Japan, "the only thing that could stop him is the lack of sponsors".
"In small federations, we don't have the same advantages as elsewhere"
Despite being an Olympic athlete, Privel is constantly struggling to find contracts and sponsors. "Again, being an athlete for a country like Benin is really difficult, because I have to combine my many trainings with my job in IT," explains Privel.
« Every morning it's the same, I get up at 5am, train for 2-3 hours, go to work, train at lunchtime and in the evening after work I train again, it's hard sometimes, but rowing is more than a passion » for Privel, all sacrifices are legitimate to become a Beninese champion
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