World Athletics long jump champion is also a classical pianist with a passion for Chopin and Schubert

26 July 2022, 12:33 | Updated: 26 July 2022, 14:13

Malaika Mihambo is a world champion long jumper, and plays classical piano to unwind.
Malaika Mihambo is a world champion long jumper, and plays classical piano to unwind. Picture: Alamy / Fabian Hensel Photography

By Siena Linton

Malaika Mihambo, an Olympic and world champion long jumper, plays classical piano in her downtime.

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Born in Germany in 1994, Malaika Mihambo is one of the greatest long jump athletes competing today.

She currently holds the titles of Olympic, world, and European champion in her sport, most recently winning the gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon on 24 July.

This recent win marks her second gold medal at the competition, having taken home first place in the 2019 event in Doha, Qatar, as well as Olympic gold at Tokyo 2022. She also won the gold medal at the 2018 European Championships, which usually take place every two years but were cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic.

Read more: Teenage skiing prodigy credits ‘nine years of piano playing’ for Gold medal at Winter Olympics

Like many athletes, Mihambo has several methods for de-compressing and relaxing after competitions and rigorous training sessions, and one of her great passions outside of athletics is classical music.

In an interview with the German magazine Concerti, Mihambo reveals that she didn’t discover classical music until 2016. She began playing the piano aged 22, and through her learning of the instrument began to delve deeper into the genre.

“Musicians and athletes have a lot in common”, Mihambo says. “Diligence, discipline and passion, which you have to show in order to achieve good results and progress, are particularly important’’.

The German athlete also says she enjoys learning at her own pace without the pressure of success, as a sort of contrast to her thriving career in competitive sport.

In a post shared to Instagram, Mihambo is pictured at her piano with a book of music by Chopin, captioned “Music is a universal language. It give you emotions and something to think about. It’s definitely soul food”.

Mihambo also shared a short clip from Franz Schubert’s Sehnsuchtswalzer as she prepared for the European Indoor Championships, in February 2022:

From ‘Nessun dorma’ at the 1994 World Cup to Ravel’s Boléro soundtracking the most memorable ice dancing final in history, classical music and sport have long been intertwined. Discover the most famous examples here.