The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finished a week ago. Traditionally, African nations gather most of their medals in athletics, particularly middle- and long distance running, led by Kenyans and Ethiopians. Only a small fraction of medals come from other sports. South Africa, for example, produces good swimmers and rowers, while Egypt has been good in weightlifting. Olympic football gold has been won by an African country twice.
African countries got a total of 45 medals at the 2016 Olympics, 10 of them golden. If Africa was a country, it would have been placed 7th on the medal table, just above France.
Kenyan rugby sevens team made national history by winning the 2016 World Sevens Series tournament in Singapore. While Kenya has had a strong rugby sevens team, winning this tournament against all rugby powerhouses was a huge achievement. Kenyans will now have high expectations for the team at the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Rugby sevens will feature for the first time.
Each January starts with the famous endurance racing event Dakar Rally. Far from its roots, the event has been held in South America for several years now. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the event is in South America to stay.
Competed since 1979, the event was traditionally flagged off in Paris, France, and finished in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Most competitive stages would be deep into Saharan deserts, though. In the 90’s the competition started experimenting different routes, but in most cases the podium stayed in Dakar. Formerly known as Paris-Dakar rally, the name was later shortened to its current form “Dakar Rally”.
The South African Rugby team, nicknamed Springboks, are chasing their third world title at the ongoing Rugby World Cup. Despite shocking loss to Japan in their first game, Springboks are still considered among the strongest teams of the tournament.
Yet not every South African celebrate when their rugby team wins. Some of them go as far as supporting the opponents of Springboks. The reason is evident when you look at the racial composition of the team, which has earned the negative nickname “All-Whites”.
All-Africa Games could be described as the “Olympics of Africa”, being a multi-sport event which (supposedly) draws all the best sportsmen and -women from all over the continent. The 12th edition of All-Africa Games were just concluded in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The same city hosted the first event back in 1965. Brazzaville is the second city to host the Games twice, after Algiers, which acted as the host in 1978 and 2007. All Africa Games has been in almost all cases is the biggest sporting event ever held in the hosting country.
This year’s World Championships in Athletics are ongoing and as usual, African (or Africa-born) runners win most if not all middle- and long distance events. But no other event is dominated by one country as is men’s 3000 metres steeplechase. It will almost certainly be won by a Kenyan (of Kalenjin ethnicity), and this year did not make any difference, in fact the four Kenyan participants filled the first four positions on the results table. Usually countries can send a maximum of three athletes per event, but defending champions will get an automatic entrance on top of that.
The winner this year was no one else than Ezekiel Kemboi, who won gold in fourth consecutive World Championships. No other athlete has managed the same in one event, although Usain Bolt has a good chance to achieve the same in 200 metres and relay events to be competed later this week. In addition, Kemboi got three silver medals in World Championships before his gold streak, meaning he has won a medal at every World Championships since 2003! That’s seven editions in total.
The 2015 edition of the most celebrated cycle race, Tour de France, has now been concluded after three gruelling weeks. Chris Froome won the race, his second victory after the one in 2013. The 30-year old Kenya-born Briton led most of the race, although the young Colombian Nairo Quintana made powerful attacks in last few mountain stages. Quintana may well become the first non-western winner of Le Tour, something he already achieved with Giro d’Italia last year. Read the rest of this entry »