This will be RunBlogRun’s first time with live on site coverage of the African Athletics Championships. Deji Ogeyingbo will be on-site to provide us with previews, reviews, and comments via social media to give you an in-stadium view of this very important continental championship.
This first column is on the Men and Women competing in the sprints.
Akani Simbini, is Akani ready for the African Championships? photo by Diamond League AG
African Athletics Championships Preview: Men and Women Sprints
After a four-year hiatus, the African Athletics Championships is back in Mauritius from June 8th to 12th. The brand-new track of the Côte d’Or sports complex, a freshly certified Class 1 Athletics Facility, will host the 22nd edition of the Senior Championships as it pits some of the continent’s track and field stars against each other.
Asaba was the last city to host the competition with Kenya emerging top of the medals table with 11 gold, six silver, and two bronze medals, and South Africa and Nigeria came second and third respectively.
This will be the third edition on Mauritian land, after those of 1992 at Belle-Vue and 2006 at Bambous. South Africa has the largest contingent with 89 athletes, followed by Kenya (78) and Nigeria (54).
We at RunblogRun will give you all the live updates and stories in the build-up leading to the Championships as well as on the ground as over 800 athletes jostle for the continent’s top prize in track and field.
Here, we take a look at the men’s and women’s sprints and what to expect.
Men and Women’s 100m
It feels rather strange that the championship record over the men’s 100m is still held by Nigeria’s Seun Ogunkoya when he ran 9.94 to win in Dakar in 1998. With African athletes growing in leaps and bounds, it is one record that is most certainly guaranteed to fall.
Ferdinand Omanyala takes 100m at KIp Keino Classic, photo by KIP KEINO CLASSIC
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala is the top entry for the men as he holds the world lead with his 9.85s clocking at the Kip Kieno Classic in April. The bulky sprinter took down the African Record at the same meeting in 2021 when he clocked 9.77s to become the eighth fastest man in the world.
He’s going to be the top draw going into the race and he would hope to add the title of African Champion to his growing list of achievements. Next to him is the defending African champion, Akani Simbine. The South African has not had the best of the season so far as he boasts a Season’s Best of 10.06s at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet a few days back. Simbine also lost to Omanyala in April when they raced in Johannesburg.
African Games Champion Raymond Ekevwo (seasons Best of 10.04) will be looking to upset the apple carts as he leads Team Nigeria’s contingent of sprinters that includes Seye Ogunlewe (10.20) and Nicholas Mabilo (10.24). One Sprinter who could throw the cats amongst the pigeons is World Junior Champion Letsile Tebogo. The Botswanan recently ran 9.96s, a Personal Best, while also competing and placing fifth at the Prefontaine Classic.
Marie Jose TaLou, Murielle Ahoure, Mujinga Kambundji, Birmingham WIC 2018, photo by Mike Deering / The Shoe Addicts
In the women’s race, Ivorian Marie Jose Ta Lou will hope to defend the title she won in Asaba in 2018. The World Championships Bronze medalist hasn’t had the best of seasons so far with her season-best being 11.07s, a time she ran at the Pre-Classic. With Nigeria not naming Favour Ofili (the top-ranked female sprinter in Africa this year) because of her engagement at the NCAA Championships.
Bassant Hemida, photo by DiscernSport.com
Still, Egypt’s Bassant Hemida is the top entrant over the distance after reaching new heights at the Kip Kieno classic, clocking a PB of 11.02s. Her rise has been phenomenal and might spring a surprise in Mauritius. African Record holder in the 100m Hurdles Tobi Amusan (11.14) has been entered to race the 100m for Nigeria while Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi will provide more competition.
Men and women’s 200m
Two African female sprinters sit on this season’s top list of the Africans: Christine Mboma and Ofili. Sadly, both athletes will be absent when the games kick off on the island nation. That leaves Ta Lou and Niger sprinter Aminatou Seyni as the front runners to take the title.
Seyni ran a Niger Record of 22.21s at the Golden Spike meet in Ostrava, but with Masilingi looking to do a double, it will take a huge upset to stop her from getting the Gold. Egypt’s Hemida has clocked 22.63 this season and will surely be in the mix.
Like the women’s draw, the top four fastest Africans (Joseph Fahnbulleh, Udodi Onwuzurike, Benjamin Azamati and Alaba Akintola) over the 200m this year will be competing in the NCAA Champs the same week as the African Champs. That leaves South Africa’s duo of Clarence Munyai (20.33) and Luxolo Adams (20.28) as the top dogs.
Omanyala has been listed by Athletics Kenya to do the double and he will be looking to get on the podium in the 200m too.
Men and women’s 400m
South Africa’s Miranda Coetzee will be on a quest to ensure her country retains the women’s 400m title as defending Champion Caster Semenya was selected to race the 5000m. The 24-year-Old has had a break-out year after she claimed victory at the Kip Kieno Classic in April.
Deline Mpiti, photo by G4Sports.com
Coetzee’s biggest threat will come in the form of her compatriot Deline Mpiti who has run 51.73 this year while Nigeria’s Patience Okon-George who is a two-time Bronze medalist at the Championships will be hoping to add Gold to her collection having topped 52.08 about a month ago.
Isaac Makwala, London 2017, photo by Mike Deering / The Shoe Addicts
Veteran, Isaac Makwala will be going for one last swansong as he hopes to win yet another medal for Botswana with neighbors South African not naming World Record holder Wayde Van Niekerk in their team. The Southern African Nation boasts some of the best quarter milers on the continent as they will be looking to make a clean sweep of the event.
Defending champion Baboloki Thebe won’t be part of their team as he hasn’t raced this season, but the likes of Bayapo Ndori who tops the African list when he won the 400m at the ASA Athletics Grand Prix with 44.88s. World Junior Champion, Anthony Pasela will be part of the team with his season’s best of 45.62 enough to put him in contention.