Ink Tone Swep | Red Bull Location Matera, Basilicata, Southern Italy
Freerunning star Didi Alaoui claimed the biggest title of his career when he was crowned the new Red Bull Art of Motion champion in Matera, a canyon carved town nestled in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. For the Moroccan, who now lives and trains in Los Angeles – via a life changing stint in Denmark – it proved the culmination of a remarkable journey to the top of the sport. By his own admission, life was tough growing up as a passionate parkour athlete in the eastern Moroccan town of Oujda. Despite this, the 24-year-old Alaoui spent hours, days, weeks, virtually every day of his life perfecting his moves in the sand. On October 5th all of the fearless and flexible athlete’s hard work and determination certainly paid off.
How did it feel to be crowned Red Bull Art of Motion champion?
The win was not only about me but for everyone back home from my country and everyone that has a dream, that thinks something is impossible.
How did you get into the sport in Morocco in the first place?
I was living in Oujda in the east of the country. One day I was just biking around and saw some guys trying to jump. I asked them if it was parkour, but they didn’t know. A friend of mine had a computer so we went to his place to watch YouTube videos and it just started like that.
How difficult was it to train?
I had no gym, no nothing, but that was not a problem. Sometimes I’d make my own park but it could be tough as the next day it would be destroyed or people had stolen my stuff. Often, I’d have to walk many kilometers carrying tires to a good place in the sand to train.
Do you have fond memories of those early days in Morocco?
It was tough but I enjoyed it, and I was always happy. I didn’t have what maybe every child wants but I was thankful for what I did have. I never had a phone or camera to film myself but that was not a big deal because I was still able to train every day. At home in Morocco, I have five siblings and I try to send money home to help. I wish I could see them. As soon as I get the money, I will go and see them!
What was the key turning point in your career?
I uploaded a video of me doing parkour in a playground and this school in Denmark called Gymnastikhojskolen i Ollerup saw the video and offered me a scholarship for parkour, gymnastics, and dancing. I would live, eat, sleep and train at the same time. It was the most awesome experience for someone that never had a gym. I was there on a course from January 2016 for nine months and then they offered me to work there as a parkour teacher. I taught there for two-and-a-half years. Over there, I started making money and I’d never made money before. I could buy clothes and buy parkour stuff. I will never forget that moment.
And how did you come to living here in Los Angeles? You are 6000 miles from where you started, man.
I got a job working as a coach but I had to quit before Art of Motion to focus on my training. The manager said that if I missed work, I would not have a job when I came back. I quit, which was a big risk as I didn’t have money to pay rent and I knew there was no going back. My parents usually want me to work and support them but they supported me. They gave me the green light for Art of Motion.
Can you call yourself the best in the world after your Red Bull Art of Motion victory?
There’s a long way to go. When I was working and training for this competition I could see myself winning. I was like ‘I can do this’ but when I won I was shocked for a few seconds. Everything paid off, so no regrets. I would do it all again for that moment.