Brazzaville, CongoNigeria earned their first mention on the medal table of the 14th Africa Athletics Championships, as did Egypt, Tunisia, and Ghana, on Thursday 15 July.
However, it was the gold medal won by Sudan’s Todd Jouda Matthews in the men’s 110m Hurdles that was the most memorable achievement on the second day of the Championships which are being staged at the Massamba Debat Stadium, reports Mark Ouma.
Matthews takes gold for Sudan
Accelerating ahead after the third hurdle, Matthews, who formerly competed for the USA, held off defending champion Shaun Bownes of South Africa to win the High Hurdles in a championship record of 13.70 (Bownes 13.36 win in 2002 was wind aided). Matthews improved by 0.02 second on Bownes’ previous championship record which was established by the South African when he took the title in 1998.
For his part Bownes (13.80) had to muster all his experience to edge his compatriot Frikkie van Zyl (13.81) to clinch the bronze medal.
“I hope whatever I achieve can inspire the youth back at home. There is a promising future so long as one is dedicated and focussed. This is the message I am taking back home,” said Matthews, 25, whose personal best is 13.36 (2002), though he holds the Sudanese national record of 13.64 (Doha SGP – 14 May 2004).
Nigerians clinch gold
Using contrasting race patterns Olusoji Fasuba and Endurance Ojokolo respectively won the men’s and women’s 100m finals to give Nigeria their first medals at these championships.
Exploding from the blocks in an aggressive style, Fasuba built a small lead over favourite Idriss Sanou (Burkina Faso) and held onto the slender lead to win in a time of 10.21. Sanou was runner up in 10.37, ahead of Gambia’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (10.43).
“I am now all fired up for the Olympics. After finishing third at the Nigerian trials (behind Tamunosiki Atorudibo and Deji Aliu) last week this victory comes as a huge boost. I am gearing up for sub-10 seconds at the Olympics,” say Fasuba.
The Afro-Asian Games 100m champion, Fasuba sounded a warning, “Nigeria will win the 4x100m relay here. The internal politics that cost us the gold medal at the All Africa Games last year are a thing of the past”.
Defending champion Endurance Ojokolo accelerated midway through the women’s dash to breeze past for Mercy Nku (Nigeria) and Geraldine Pillay who led until the last ten metres. But Ojokolo who was also the African champion last time out in 2002 will need to polish up her start if she is to make an impact at the Olympics.
Close women’s Shot battle
Perhaps the most exciting contest in a field event so far during these championships came with the showdown in the women’s Shot Put between Wafaa Ismail Baghdadi (Egypt) and her equally resolute Tunisian opponent Amel Ben Khalid.
They took turns leading the field until Baghdadi, who was the bronze medallist at the last African Championships (2002) and also in last year’s All-African Games, prevailed with her final heave of 15.53m. Khalid was runner-up with 15.45. While third placed Alitatou Djibril (15.16) ensured that Togo will not return home empty handed from these Championships.
Harmse and Viljoen take gold for South Africa
South African Chris Harmse (75.90) retained his men’s Hammer title.
Harmse compatriot Sunette Viljoen, the African record holder (61.59 – 2003) in the women’s Javelin, threw 60.13m to dramatically improve the championship record in that event from the 55.46 set by Aicha Sellam (Tunisia) two years ago in Tunis.
Even so, Tunisian fans had reason to smile when Syrine Balti leapt 4.00m to win the women’s Pole Vault. Balti has won all three African championship titles which has been contested in this discipline. Her championships best is 4.06 which she achieved when winning the gold in 2002.
Simpson supreme in Heptathlon
Despite of the absence of their formidable sprinters, Ghana had their moment of glory when Margaret Simpson established a new Heptathlon championship record. Her 6154 points was way off the 6306 points with which she established the national record in Gotzis earlier this year but it is significantly better than the 6105w total with which she won this title in 2002.
Kenyan wins at 1500m and 10,000m
There were good wins for well known Kenyan names in both the men's 1500m and 10,000m.
World Indoor champion Paul Korir came home the winner of the 1500m in 3:39.48.
2001 World 10,000m gold medallist Charles Kamathi with a 28:07.83 winning run would seem to have clinched the third and final spot in the Kenyan 10,000m squad for the Olympics.
Competition continues today (16 July). The men’s and women’s 400m are expected to be the highlight of the day.
RESULTS (all finals as at end of July 15)
1 Olusoji Fasuba (Nigeria) 10.21
2 Idriss Sanou (Burkina Faso) 10.37
3 Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (Gambia) 10.43
110m Hurdles (0.0)
1 Todd Jouda Matthews (Sudan) 13.70
2 Shaun Bownes (South Africa) 13.80
3 Frikkie van Zyl (South Africa) 13.81
1 Paul Korir (Kenya) 3:39.48
2 Peter Ashak (Sudan) 3:41.31
3 Yassine Bensghir (Morocco) 3:41.49
1 David Chemweno (Kenya) 8:17.31
2 Richard Matelong (Kenya) 8:26.34
3 Abdellatif Chemlal (Morocco) 8:31.01
1 Charles Kamathi (Kenya) 28:07.83
2 Dinkesa Abebe (Ethiopia) 28:10.49
3 Admsu Yebeltal (Ethiopia) 28:28.69
1 Jonathan Chimier (Mauritius) 8.06
2 Kaba Badji Ndiss (Senegal) 7.86
3 Nabil Adamou Med (Algeria) 7.72
1 Frantz Kruger (South Africa) 63.85
2 Hannes Hopley (South Africa) 63.50
3 Nabil Kirame (Morocco) 52.12
1 Chris Harmse (South Africa) 75.90
2 Sabeur Souid (Tunisia) 70.71
3 Elraoul Ahmed Abd (Egypt) 67.87
1 Endurance Ojokolo (Nigeria) 11.33
2 Mercy Nku (Nigeria) 11.36
3 Geraldine Pillay (South Africa) 11.40
1 Kidane Etalemahu (Ethiopia) 16:25.83
2 Prisca Jepleting (Kenya) 16:26.15
3 Angele Haronsimana (Burundi) 19:55.99
1 Grace Wanjiku (Kenya) 1:42:45
2 Nicolene Cronje (South Africa) 1:43:57
3 Bahia Boussad (Algeria) 1:46:12
1 Aldama Yamille (Sudan) 14:90
2 Kene Ndoye (Senegal) 14.44
3 Mariette Mien (Burkina Faso) 12.61
4 Teima Cossa (Mozambique) 11.85
1 Hestrie Cloete (South Africa) 1.95
2 Samantha Dodd (South Africa) 1.60
3 Janice Josephs (South Africa) 1.50
1 Cyrine Balti (Tunisia) 4.00 CR
2 Samantha Dodd (South Africa) 3.80
3 Nancy Cheekhoussen (Mauritius) 3.70
1 Sunette Viljoen (South Africa) 60.13
2 Aida Sallem (Tunisia) 54.68
3 Ceicilia Kiplagat (Kenya) 48.78
4 Adama Sane (Senegal) 42.21 NR
1 Wafa Ismail Boghdady (Egypt) 15.53
2 Amel Ben Khalid (Tunisia) 15.45
3 Alitatou Djibril (Togo) 15.16
1 Margaret Simpson (Ghana) 6154
2 Janice Josephs (South Africa) 5785
3 Celine Laporte (Seychelles) 5172
MEDAL TABLE as at end of 15 July
South Africa 4 6 3
Kenya 4 2 1
Sudan 2 1 0
Nigeria 2 1 0
Tunisia 1 3 0
Ethiopia 1 1 1
Egypt 1 0 1
Ghana 1 0 0
Mauritius 1 0 1
Senegal 0 2 0
Burkina Faso 0 1 1
Algeria 0 0 2
Morocco 0 0 3
Burundi 0 0 1
Gambia 0 0 1
Seychelles 0 0 1
Togo 0 0 1