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 »
Road cycling is known as a sport dominated by white Europeans. If people were asked who is the best African cyclist, the most likely answer would be Chris Froome, Tour de France 2013 winner who was born in Kenya, then moved to South Africa but has represented UK for years now. Other than that, various (white) South Africans like Robert Hunter and Darryl Impey have been established names in the world of competitive cycling. North African countries (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) have also performed well in continental competitions, but have made little mark beyond that. But more remarkably, new cyclists are emerging from less known countries like Rwanda and Eritrea. Ethnic African riders are participating Tour de France for the first time this year. At the early stages of he competition Daniel Teklehaimanot of Eritrea made history by wearing the polka-dot jersey, given to the leader of King of the Mountains competition.
This year’s edition of the biennial Under 20 FIFA World Cup held in New Zealand came to an end with Serbia beating Brazil in the final at the dying minutes of Extra time. The third place final saw two African teams playing each other, where Mali defeated Senegal 3-0.
All four African teams in the tournament reached playoffs (top 16). This is much better feat than in senior World Cup where Africa struggles to send even one team past group stage. Ghana is the only African team to win U20 World Cup, in 2005. They have also recorded two lost finals and one third place, as have Nigeria, but the latter lacks a championship. This year’s third place was the second for Mali, the first one dating back to 1999.
FIFA, the world governing body in football (soccer) has been under headlines last week. Despite being elected for yet another term as the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter resigned after only few days later due to mounting pressure over corruption cases. Blatter has made big steps helping to develop football in Africa, thus gaining almost unanimous support by African football federations.
Now that the Women’s World Cup held in Canada is kicking off, hopefully the sport prevails and off-field events stay in the background, despite the importance of ongoing investigations on FIFA. The number of teams participating the in the World Cup has been increased from 16 to 24, three of them from Africa (previously two), namely Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.