Africa had a really good showing at the World Championships in Eugene (Oregon) in the US, this past week, with quite a few gold medals, multiple medals, broken world records, or simply reaffirmation of their domination on their disciplines.
Tobi Amusan of Nigeria broke a world record to win a Gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles, thus giving Nigeria its first gold at a world championship. Compatriot Ese Brume (Olympic Bronze long jump) won the Silver medal in the women’s Long Jump.
Burkinabe Hugues Fabrice Zango who had won Bronze in men’s triple jump at the Tokyo Olympics, giving his country its first ever Olympic medal, went farther to win Silver at the World Championships this week.
Kenyan athletes were impressive as Mary Moraa got Bronze in the women’s 800m while EmmanuelKipkurui Korir(Olympics 800m Gold medal) won Gold in the men’s 800m. Faith Kipyegon, the Olympics Gold winner, retained her crown as the women’s 1500m queen of the distance with Gold. ConselusKipruto took Bronze in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. In the women’s 5000m, Beatrice Chebet took Silver, and Jacob Kroptook home Silver in the men’s discipline. The duo of Hellen Obiri (Olympic 5000m Silver winner) and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi took home Silver and Bronze medals in the women’s 10,000m respectively; while compatriot Stanley Waithaka Mburu took Silver in the men’s 10,000m. Judith Jeptum Korir took home the Silver medal in the women’s marathon
Djamel Sedjati of Algeria took Silver in the men’s 800m.
Gudaf Tsegay (5000m Olympic Bronze medalist) of Ethiopia won Silver in women’s 1500m, and Gold in 5000m; while her compatriot Dawit Seyaumtook the Bronze medal on 5000m. In the 3000msteeplechase, the women Werkuha Getachew and Mekides Abebe took Silver and Bronze respectively; while Lamecha Girma (Olympic 3000m steeplechase Silver medal) took Silver for the men. LetesenbetGidey (Bronze at the Olympics 10,000m) won the Gold medal in the women’s 10,000m discipline. Gotytom Gebreslase took home the Gold medal in the women’s marathon, while her male compatriots Tamirat Tola and MosinetGeremewwon Gold and Silver in the men’s marathon.
Soufiane El Bakkali(Olympic gold 3000m steeplechase winner) of Morocco took home Gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.
Oscar Chelimo of Uganda won Bronze in the men’s 5000m. The duo Joshua Cheptegei (Olympic 5000m gold winner) and Jacob Kiplimo (Olympic 10,000m Bronze medalist) took home Gold and Bronze medals respectively in the men’s 10,000m.
Although 2021 has globally been a tough year, there are still events that lend to celebration. As we turn the page of 2021 and delve into 2022, it is good to note that in 2021, a lot of “firsts” have taken place on the African continent. Below are a few of the events that brought joy. There are many more, of course, but I selected 11. Enjoy, and add in the comments other celebratory events that have marked the continent this year.
In May, a Malian woman gives birth to 9 babies (from natural conception). This marks the first single birth and survival of nonuplets in the world. Halima Cisse, a Malian woman, has given birth to nonuplets, 5 girls and 4boys, in a hospital in Morocco [World Record: Malian Woman gives Birth to Nine Babies].
Late July marks the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after one year of postponement, and Africa wins new victories. Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui offers the African continent its first medal of the games, by winning gold in the 400m freestyle swimming; Hugues Zango of Burkina Faso gives his country its first ever medal at the Olympics by winning the bronze medal in the men’s triple jump; while Eliud Kipchoge successfully defends his Olympic title at the marathon becoming the 3rd person in the history of the games to win successive marathons [African Wins at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics].
Now, there are a lot more such as David Diop winning the International Booker prize for his book “At Night All Blood is Black” which focuses on Tirailleurs Senegalais; or the Senegalese influencer Khaby Lame being ranked number 2 on Tik Tok for his wordless humor which transcends language barriers and cultures (he is the fastest growing Tik Tok influencer with 120 million followers); or even Madagascar’s secretary of police, Serge Gelle, swimming for about 12 hours to reach shore after his helicopter crashed in the Indian Ocean off the northeast coast of the country. When rescued, Gelle said “My turn to die has not yet come, thank God.” So let us all be grateful for this year, and for the people and events who have brought joy to our lives, and let us move forward to a new year.
This week more history has been made for Africa at the Olympics. Records have been broken and Africans have responded present with strength.
Tunisia, with Ahmed Hafnaouioffered the African continent its first medal of the games, by winning gold in the 400m freestyle swimming. Then, Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi won silver in the Men’s 58kg Taekwondo.
Burkina Faso got its first ever medal since the creation of the Olympic games. Hugues Fabrice Zango won the bronze medal in the Men’s triplejump. It was really good to watch him, and I am proud for this son of the land of Thomas Sankara. Moreover, he won his medal, Burkina Faso’s medal on the 61st anniversary of the country’s independence (as you know most Francophone countries are not really independent from France because of the FCFA, but this is a story for another day).
NamibiaChristine Mboma came back from behind to win silver in the Women’s 200m in front of some of the world’s best. Now remember that Christine Mboma and her compatriot Beatrice Masilingi were barred from running their favorite distance, 400m, just a month ago, and had to all of sudden readjust to run 200m. They were declared ineligible for the longer race because of a genetic condition that raises their testosterone levels. South African Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion in the 800m (2016 and 2012), is the most famous DSD (difference in sexual development) athlete who has been stopped from running in Tokyo. All three 800m medallists at the 2016 Rio Olympics – Semenya, Burundi’s silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba and Kenyan bronze winner Margaret Wambui – were DSD athletes… I am not sure I understand the whole issue, because for me, I wonder how one can be born female and then one day some organization tells them that they are not female. I find it hard to fathom. So let’s see what will happen. Mboma is the first Namibian female to win an olympic medal… she is following in the tracks of the great Namibian athlete Frankie Fredericks (Frankie Fredericks: Sprinting to the Finish for Namibia).
Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria won Silver in the Women’s freestyle 68kg. Ese Brume did not disappoint and won Nigeria’s first medal of the Tokyo Olympic Games, taking bronze in the women’s long jump.
Ethiopia Selemon Barega gave Ethiopia its first Men’s 10,000m gold since Kenenisa Bekele in 2008. Lamecha Girma won silver in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase. Gudaf Tsegay won bronze in the Women’s 5000m race, while Letesenbet Gidey won the bronze medal in Women’s 10000m.
Uganda Joshua Cheptegei, the World champion and world record holder, ran a controlled race to take the men’s 5000m gold; last week, he had also won silver in the Men’s 10,000m. Jacob Kiplimo won the bronze medal in the Men’s 10,000m race. Peruth Chemutai became the first Ugandan woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal on Wednesday – triumphing in the Women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who had been training with legends like marathon world record holderEliud Kipchogethwarted World champion’s Sifan Hassan’s plans of winning a distance treble in Tokyo by retaining the women’s 1500m title by pulling ahead after the bell and winning gold. Her compatriot Peres Jepchirchir won the women’s marathon, defeating world record holder Brigid Kosgei in the closing stages and winning in 2h27min20s, and Kosgei had to settle for silver. Hellen Obiritook home silver in Women’s 5,000m, while Hyvin Kiyeng won bronze in Women’s3000m steeplechase. The men’s 800m gold went to Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir of Kenya, and his teammate Ferguson Rotich took silver. Timothy Cheruiyot took silver in the Men’s 1500m, while Compatriot Benjamin Kiven took bronze in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Eliud Kipchoge successfully defended his olympic title at the marathon; he is only the 3rd person in the history of the games to win successive marathons.
South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker won gold, and broke the Women’s 200m world record for breaststroke on Friday. This earned her a call from the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to congratulate her on her victory. Schoenmaker had previously won silver in the Women’s 100m breastrokes, while Bianca Buitendag took silver in surfing,
Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali triumphed in the Olympic Men’s 3,000m steeplechase – ending Kenya’s 41-year unbeaten run on the distance.
Egypt’s Giana Farouk (Lotfy) won bronze in the Women’s kumite karate. Seif Eissa, Hedaya Malak, and Mohammed Elsayed Elsayed all won bronze medals in the Men’s 80kg taekwondo, Women’s 67kg taekwondo and Men’s 67kg Greco-Roman wrestling respectively.
Ruth Gbagbiof Cote d’Ivoire won bronze in the Women’s 67kg Taekwondo. She had won Bronze also in Rio 2016. Ghana also took home bronze in the Men’s Feather (52-57kg) boxing with Samuel Takyi.
Lastly, Team Botswana (Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe, Zibane Ngozi, Bayapo Ndori) surprised everyone by giving a beautiful performance and winning the bronze amidst some of the world’s bests in the Men’s 4x400m relay.
Overall, it was a good game… As we turn the page of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which took place in 2021, we do hope that the Paris 2024 Olympics will be better for Africa, and that the world will be in a better place.