Ayodele Odumade writes this first piece about the lack of short sprint medals from Africa.
AFRICAN POSTCARD FROM THE WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LONDON BY AYODELE ODUMADE
STILL NO JOY FOR AFRICA IN THE SHORT SPRINTSA
Africans continue to flounder in the short sprints at the World Athletics championships. In the 15 previous editions of the championships, only Frankie Fredericks of Namibia has managed to win a gold medal in the 200 metres and that was back in 1993. The situation in the 100metres is even worse as not a single African has managed to win a medal.
In the case of the African Women, not one of them has managed to win a gold medal in the 100metres. In Moscow 2013, Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast became only the first woman to win a medal in the 100 metres when she won silver. She also followed that up with a silver medal in the 200 metres in the same year. Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor won Bronze behind her.
In the 400metres only Innocent Egbunike of Nigeria(Silver in 1987), Samson Kitur of Kenya (Bronze in 1993) and Davis Kamoga(Silver in 1997) have managed to win medal. As a matter of fact, Isaac Makwala of Botswana is the only African to have reached in the last 12 years.
The women have not fared any better in this event as no African woman has ever reached the final of the 400metres at a World Championships. One wonders why Africans continue to underperform and flounder in the short sprints. Is it a mental thing? When there is no pressure some of Africans like Blessing win in Diamond league events. However they have not quite grasped the art of winning round after round at the World Championships. They may set personal bests in the preliminaries but by the time they get to the final the tank is usually empty.
At these World Championships in London in the women’s 100 metres, Talou, Ahoure and Okagbare- Ighoteguonor are Africa’s best chance of a medal. Realistically speaking though none of them are favourites to win gold with the Jamaican and US athletes around. They won’t fare any better in the 200 metres either because they will meet the same obstacles.
What do African athletes need to do to win gold? Could it be the coaching? Is it psychological? On a positive note though South African superstar Wayde Van Niekerk might just come to save Africa’s blushes as he bids to do the double in the 200metres and 400metres here. However looking beyond him though where are Africa’s future champions in the sprints?