The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

First-year long jumper Maud Zeffou-Poaty takes a 4,000-mile leap of faith

Zeffou-Poaty traveled from France to Iowa for an opportunity to compete in the Black and Gold.
Grace Smith
Iowa’s Maud Zeffou-Poaty jumps in the long jump during the Jimmy Grant Alumni Invitational at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The Hawkeyes hosted Western Illinois and Wisconsin, competing in events including the pentathlon, weight throwing, field events, and various running events at the indoor track. Zeffou-Poaty placed second with a jump of 5.75 meters.

First-year long jumper Maud Zeffou-Poaty initially tried track and field to occupy her time. As she improved, her dedication to the sport transformed her into a standout long jumper in France.

“At the beginning, it was just to do a sport,” Zeffou-Poaty said. “Over the years, it has become [my] passion.”

Now, Zeffou-Poaty has brought her passion to Iowa City.

“At the beginning, I didn’t want to be here because of the cold,” Zeffou-Poaty said. “I think I like it. There’s the cold, but it’s not that bad.”

In the warmth of the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility, Zeffou-Poaty posted the fourth-best long jump in Iowa history. Her jump of 6.07 meters marked Zeffou-Poaty’s personal best as a Hawkeye, and earned her a second-place finish behind her fourth-year teammate Tionna Tobias.

“I was really proud of her for stepping on the runway and giving it all that she [had],” Tobias said. “Small breakthroughs lead to bigger breakthroughs.”

Fortunately for Zeffou-Poaty, living in the U.S. has given her the means to have those breakthrough moments. She recognizes the convenience of being a college athlete in the U.S. as opposed to in France.

In her home country, Zeffou-Poaty attended a full day of school and took the train to track practice. After her workouts, she would get back on the train to travel home, complete her homework assignments, go to bed, and prepare to do it all again the next day. Though she didn’t mind the routine, she is finding Iowa track and field to be more convenient and accommodating.

“In America, [there is] a great program for student-athletes,” she said. “When I was in France, I was one of the best.”

According to jumps coach Hadrien Choukroun, Zeffou-Poaty is adjusting well to Division I athletics as well as the Hawkeyes’ team expectations.

“She’s fitting in well,” Choukroun said. “We have a group of kids that are very committed intrinsically. They do things on their own and want to be great.”

Though Zeffou-Poaty might have specific goals for the season, Choukroun’s biggest priorities for her first season are based on her longevity as a Hawkeye.

“We want her to come out of this season healthy and with some good performances so she can be confident going into the next year,” Choukroun said.

Over the next four years in the Iowa track and field program, Zeffou-Poaty’s role will be to improve individually and build upon the jump squad’s prior success.

According to Tobias, Iowa track and field isn’t typically known for its women’s jump squad. Now, as the Hawkeyes begin to add more assets to their team, they have created off-track bonds that translate to success in meets.

“It’s just good to have a new-found sisterhood,” Tobias said. “Even though we are different cultures and everything, we are learning from each other.”

Choukroun agrees, indicating the diversity on the team makes the women stronger as both athletes and friends.

“She can explain what her part of the world is and communicate that with the rest of the team,” Choukroun said. “I think everyone can grow from her experience.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
Mia Boulton is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication, as well as exploring a possible double major in Sports Media. She works at the Daily Iowan as a sports reporter. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Mia has been a photographer for her hometown newspaper, The Record.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.