The Benin Dream Team

Small country, big talent. Meet the 6 Beninese athletes that will represent the small North African country in the Rio Olympics. Story Sponsored by GE. 

By Roumald Vissoh 

Porto Novo— Of the 10 million people who call Benin home, only six of them can say they will be representing the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.  Like the country, the six represent diverse sports and have big dreams for themselves and the future of the games in their country.


Noelie Yarigo may be Benin’s best athlete., Known as the “Queen of 800m,” Yarigo says about medaling “I do not make of it a concern. For me, the most important thing is to make a good performance at Rio.”  Yarigo earned her spot on Benin’s olympic squad early on, beating the Olympics minimum time of 2 minutes, 1.5 seconds in 2015 when she ran it in 2 minutes, point-97 seconds at a meet in New York, USA.  Her personal record is 2 minutes, point-51 seconds and her coach Claude Guillaume thinks she beat it. Noëlie has the capability to do better. I believe in her determination and her talent. ”Noelie’s male compatriot Didier Kiki will run in the 100m race at the Olympics. Didier’s times didn’t qualify him for the games, but he takes part in them on behalf of the universality of the sport. Kiki doesn’t worry about competing.

Judo and Fencing

In addition to the athletics, Benin will be represented in Rio in Judo. Celtus Dossou-Yovo got ready for the Olympics by attending a training course in Hungary. “In Hungary, I got well prepared. I know my adversaries because one was trained (sic) in the Olympic center of Hungary. I’m waiting for the D-day.”,

Like Celtus, Yèmi Apithy a Beninese fencer living in France also qualified for Rio. Apithy is not obsessed or feeling pressure from the games.  He says he intends to stop fencing after Rio and will take up rugby, a sport he has become passionate about following it in the area of Dijon in France where he lives.  


Jules Bessan, a Beninese swimmer, doesn’t set clinching a medal as his goal. He is mindful of his level and his limits. “I get prepared alone as usual. I will improve my performance.” Bessan goes to the Games as a guest of the International Olympic Committee and will be swimming in the 50 meters free just like Laraïba Séidou.  She too is registered for the 50 meter free and like Bessan did not qualify, but is a guest of the games.

With only six athletes at the Olympics the possibility of medals may be low, but the spirits of Benin’s athletes and ambassadors is high and that is, after all, what the Olympic spirit is all about.

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