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.
East Africa is known for its athletes who dominate long-distance running. The best talent come from specific areas such as Nandi Hills in Kenya or Arsi Zone in Ethiopia. Running is increasingly popular activity in western countries too, not so much as a competitive sport but as an exercise. Yet many of them take the hobby rather seriously, training for marathons and other tough races. The question is can these East African countries develop “running tourism”, would amateur runners come to train or even compete in the “home of long-distance running”? Read the rest of this entry »
Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie announced his retirement from competitive running last weekend. His 2010 retirement proved short-lived, but now that he’s already 42 the decision is set to last. Just to summarise his achievements, he won two Olympic gold medals and four world championships over 10.000 metres track event between 1993 and 2000, won number of high profile marathons and set a World Record on various distances 27 times. Read the rest of this entry »