The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
PortoRuddy Zang Milama gave Gabon their first ever sprint title, the country’s only medal at the 18th edition of African Athletics championships dethroning Nigerian Blessing Okagbare in the women’s 100m in 11.16, in what was a rather disastrous day for most of the defending champions.
Nine gold medals were won at the Charles de Gaulle Stadium on a bad day for continental sprint powerhouse Nigeria who yet again failed to recapture the 100m men’s title which went to South African Simon Magakwe in 10.29 and also lost the women’s 100m Hurdles to Senegalese Gnima Faye in 13.36.
Kenneth Kipkemoi led a Kenyan sweep of the men’s 10,000m in 27:19.74 a championship record, with compatriot Gladys Cherono grabbing the women’s 5000m gold in 15:40.04.
Gabon’s sole entrant wins thrilling 100m, South Africa grab men’s gold
Milama, who was fourth in the semi-finals at the World championships in Daegu, had a strong start as Okagbare looked set to repeat her victory over Gloria Asumnu and the Gabonese, winner of the bronze in Nairobi.
But a strong prevailing finish earned the 25-year-old athlete with a PB of 11.03, the African title overhauling Okagbare who timed 11.18 for silver with Asumnu taking the bronze in 11.21.
"I felt good coming into the race and am very satisfied with this win," said Milama, the lone Gabonese athlete in Benin, whose gold medal is the first for her nation at any championships in a decade.
"I have always had a bad finish but this year I have been great. Now I wait for London," she added rubbing her sore Achilles that she hopes will be back to shape before the Olympics.
But as Milama savoured her notable performance, South African Magakwe rued his failed Olympic qualification in his 10.29 run, which he blamed on the humid conditions in the Beninese Sea Port capital.
Like most of his teammates, Magakwe whose rare sprint gold for his country was an improvement of his African Bronze medal from 2010, is looking to hit the qualifying mark in the five-day championships, which ends Sunday.
He was followed home by Egyptian Amr Seoud, the 200m defending champion, in 10.34 and Wilfried Serge Koffi of Cote d’Ivoire (10.37).
2010 champion Seun Adigun of Nigeria misjudged her stride on the third last hurdle of the women’s dash a slipup that cost her the African title.
The Nigerian was firmly in control way past the 50m-point as she looked set to lead Faye and Algerian Amina Ferguen home yet again, but she lost her footing fumbling through the homestretch, before her subsequent disqualification.
Faye dipped first ahead of Ferguen (13.56) with Nigerian Uhunoma Osazuwa taking the bronze in 13.61.
Championship records for Kenyans Kipkemoi and Cherono
Kenyans replicated their overriding performance from the last edition, with a gun to tape victory in the men’s 10,000m, a race their rivals Ethiopians failed to challenge.
Mark Kiptoo the 5000m bronze medallist in Nairobi, had taken the field through the opening 1000m in 2:48.06.
Then Kipkemoi, the reigning Kenyan champion confidently sped past the half way mark in 13:39.83.
He sporadically slipped back leaving Kiptoo and Lewis Mosoti to lead the pack of six, before Ethiopia’s Solomon Deksisa and Abraha Adihana fell off the pace, eventually dropping out leaving Tebalu Zawude, the impossible task of penetrating the charged Kenyans.
Kipkemoi led his teammates through a fast final lap as he sped off at the bell with Kiptoo and Mosoti in tow to the first championships sweep. Kiptoo finished second for the silver in 27:20.77 with Mosoti in third in 27:22.54.
"I wish this was the Kenyan qualifying race for the Olympics," said Kipkemoi, after his blistering pace, which shaved off about five seconds off the old games 19-year old mark of 27:25.23.
"But after winning the gold the message is out I am the new man to watch!"
The women’s 50000m started off rather slow with Ethiopian Wudessa Shitto guiding the field through the first 1000m in 3:32.65.
Cherono then moved up the pack of the five who had broken off from the eight starters, with Nyaruai hot on her heels as the Ethiopians fell off the pace. The two went head to head until the last 50m when Cherono sprinted home obliterating a 12-year-old Games record which stood at 15:43.46.Nyaruai making a return to action after a three year break clocked 15:40.65 for the silver with Ethiopian Gebreslase Teklezgi 15:53.34 earning her the bronze.
Madagascar’s Ali Kame who led for much of the Decathlon competition picked a rare gold medal for his country in the event, after topping the 110 Hurdles, going past 4.30m mark in the pole-vault and a throw of 60.7m in the javelin gaining 235 points on his closest opponent Algerian Mourad Souissi with 7511.
Nigeria’s only gold medal of the day came in the women’s Discus Throw from Chinwe Okoro whose final attempt of 56.60m was the best of the day.
Tunisian Syrine Balti Ebondo won her fourth women’s pole vault Africa gold after a clearance of 3.80m while Senegalese Ndiss Kaba Badji, second in 2004 & 2010, won the men’s Long Jump with his attempt of 8.04m.
World champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana easily sailed through to the 400m final in 51.25 as Mohammed Khouaja(46.82), the surprise 2010 champion, was locked out of the men’s 400m. Another Tswana Isaac Makwala was fastest in 45.70 ahead of Oscar Pistorius, South African double amputee, who recorded 46.14.
In the 400m hurdles three-time African champion L.J van Zyl of South Africa made the final as one of the two fastest losers in 51.14. Senegalese Mamadou Hanne had the best qualifying time of 49.86.
Evelyn Watta for the IAAF
Selected results: Men - 100m: Simon Magakwe (RSA) 10.29 Amr Seoud (EGY) 10.34 Wilfried Serge Koffi (CIV) 10.37