30 Under 30: Angele Tomo

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It’s hard to believe that the Commonwealth Games were almost two years ago now. That means it’s coming up on two years since 27 year old Angele Tomo first came to Scotland.

She’d never been here before, but she had watched films and had seen musicians perform traditional Scottish dances; the kilts were perhaps a bit much for her taste, but thankfully they don’t seem to have put her off too much.

Angele came to represent Cameroon at the games, competing in the women’s freestyle wrestling 69kg event.

‘When the coach told me “Angele, you’re going to be selected for the Commonwealth Games competition, are you ready?” I said, “I’m always ready, coach.” But I don’t know, this is the Commonwealth, it’s not something easy. I can just try my best.’

Angele Tomo posing with the Edinburgh Castle behind her.She prepared for the games by wrestling with men instead of women, knowing that the level of competition at the games would be higher than any she had encountered before. It was hard work, she says. ‘When you’d get home, you’d just be sleepy. But you’d say “yes, today I learned something very good, and I am sure I will be ready.”’

And, no surprise to us, she was more than ready, and walked away from the games with a silver medal (we’ve seen it, we’ve touched it, it was in our office and we got pretty geeky about it!)

Angele started competing at age 11, after being introduced to the sport through friends. She says that although her competitive side was strong, she remembers being nervous for her first big match.

‘Every time, if I’m not champion, I’m second. If I’m not gold, I’m silver. I’ve never been bronze. But the first big competition I was very scared, because I was like “there’s too many people!”’

Now living in Glasgow, Angele is adjusting to a new life, and says that one of the biggest sources of support she’s found is (if you’ll allow us just a little bit of boasting) our very own YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement centre in Glasgow!

10648307_1198356553508174_2180129075548110291_oLooking to meet new people and learn new skills, Angele joined one of our Empowering Pathways programmes last year, and has also taken ESOL and computing classes through the Glasgow centre. She is also taking weekly sewing classes and attending workshops to learn how to help people who are struggling with mental illness.

Angele shares with us some valuable advice that her coach gave her, which she says was very helpful: ‘He said, “The first person you have to focus on is you. When you’ve got it, you can share, but you have to do you first.”’

And although she always keeps that advice in mind, Angele is also keen to help others whenever they might need it.

‘I need to help; if someone needs help, I’m always ready to give it. People who don’t have what you have, you have to help.’

Okay, what a champion though!

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