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Makwala leads African 4x400m men to glorious finish as Europe dominates IAAF Continental Cup

15 Sep LaShawn Merritt & Isaac Makwala

The 2014 IAAF Continental Cup ended on a high for Team Africa despite finishing third in the final standings of the competition, which came to a close on Sunday at the Le Grande Stade in Marrakech, Morocco.

The four continents which featured in the two-day meeting were Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Europe and hosts, Africa. The Europeans led by a mile, amassing 447.5 points overall while the Americas followed in second place with 390.0 points. Africa was third with 339.0 while the Asian-Pacific team settled for fourth with a total of 257.5points.

Some of the major highlights of the event include the men and women’s 100m races which provided some excitement even in the absence of the continent’s top two female athletes in the event, Blessing Okagbare and Murielle Ahouré. Veronica Campbell-Brown was in awesome form as she blew away the rest of the field in the women’s 100m, taking the title with a time of 11.08s, after her Diamond League triumph two weeks ago in Zurich.

Team mate and world No.2, Michelle Lee-Ahye who recently returned from a brief hiatus owing to injury took second with 11.25s while European double sprint champion, Dafne Schippers placed third in 11.26s. Team Africa’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire and Gloria Asumnu were fourth and sixth respectively in 11.28s and 11.37s.

The men’s 100m was an explosive race with the spoils being shared among European champion, James Dasaolu (10.03s), Mike Rodgers (10.04s) and Nigerian born Qatari sprinter Femi Ogunode who posted a Personal Best (PB) of 10.04s. Nigeria and Team Africa’s Mark Jelks took fourth with 10.12s while teammate and the continent’s fastest man, Hua Wilfried Koffi was unable to replicate the form that saw him scoop the sprint double a month ago, finishing a distant seventh 10.22s.

The Americas led the 4x100m relays as Campbell-Brown anchored the female team to a top place with a time of 42.44s, while the African team comprising of Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan, Ta Lou and Justine Palframan was disqualified. It was the same story in the men’s event as the team comprising of Kim Collins, Nesta Carter, Michael Rodgers and Richard Thompson took the race with a scorching PB of 37.97s. The African team, which was made up of the Nigerian quartet of Jelks, Obinna Metu, Edward Monzavous and Ogho-Oghene Egwero, clocked 39.10s to take third.

Schippers coasted to victory in the women’s 200m in 22.28s, Ta Lou placed fifth with a PB of 22.78s while Duncan finished seventh with 23.63s, same position as Koffi in the men’s event. The Americas pair of Alonso Edward and Rasheed Dwyer clocked 19.98s in the men’s race, making it the second time ever at this competition that two men have gone sub-20 in the event. Ogunode picked another bronze in the event.

The men’s triple jump event ended with a PB for winner, Benjamin Compaore (17.48m) and National Record (NR) for Mokoena (17.35m). Nigeria’s Tosin Oke narrowly missed out on a place on the podium with a fourth place finish, posting a jump of 16.89m. African and Commonwealth champion, Ese Brume had to settle for fifth position in the women’s long jump event with a leap of 6.34m. Europe’s Éloyse Lesueur won the event with 6.66m as world No.1, Tianna Bartoletta was relegated to third position with 6.45m.                 

Stephen Mozia secured seventh position in the men’s discus throw with a distance of 57.31m in the event was won by Europe’s Gerd Kanter in 64.46m, while Chinwe Okoro finished sixth with a throw of 16.35m in the women’s shot put event. She took seventh position a day earlier in the discus event, recording a throw of 52.30m. African 110 hurdles champion, Tyrone Akins ran a Season’s Best (SB) of 13.48s to place fifth in his event while teammate, Juan De Vries finished in eighth position. Sergey Shubenkov (13.23s), Ronnie Ash (13.25s) and William Sharman (13.25s) emerged the top three in the event.

Nigerian champion, Folashade Abugan finished sixth in the 400m but Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo was faster, securing the fourth position with a PB and NF of 50.87s, which was a remarkable feat achieved by the footballer turned sprinter. Mupopo is certainly one to watch out for in the near future!

Despite the European invasion, there were flashes of brilliance from some of Team Africa’s representatives. First on the list is Cornel Fredericks outstanding performance in the men’s 400m hurdles on Day 1 of the competition. There was no slowing down the African and Commonwealth champion who raced to his third international title in 2014 in 48.34s, relegating the likes of Javier Culson to third position. His fellow African partner, Chris Morton placed fifth in 49.65s.

Another spectacular performance was the 1-2 finish in the men’s 800m as Botswana’s Nijel Amos and Mohammed Aman outpaced their rivals to win the men’s 800m. Amos, the African and Commonwealth champion took the event in 1:44.88s, while his Ethiopian counterpart followed with 1:45.34s.

Makwala was impressive in the 400m, following world No.2, Lashawn Merritt closely with 44.84s. The American and Diamond League winner took the race in 44.60s. More outstanding though was the Batswana’s feat in the 4x400m as his second leg run turned out to be the defining moment of the race, as he took over the lead from the Americas. Third and anchor leg runners, Saviour Kombe and Van Niekerk consolidated on his performance to gift the hosts a befitting gold medal in the final event of the competition with a PB of 3:00.02s. The Europeans (3:00.10s) followed while the Americas and Asian-Pacific teams placed third and fourth respectively in 3:02.78s and 3:03.77s. 

In the women’s category, the Jamaican led team raced to first position with a world of 3:20.93s, followed by Europe(3:24.12s) while the African team comprising of Mupopo, Abugan, Patience Okon George and Ada Benjamin posted a PB of  3:25.51s to place third.

Other Africans who won their events include Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed in the javelin throw (85.44m), Isiah Kiplangat Koech in the men’s 5000m (13:26.86s), Eunice Sum in the women’s 800m (1:58.21s), Genzebe Dibaba in the women’s 3000m (8:57.53s) and Jairus Kipchoge Birech in the 3000m steeplechase men (8:13.18).

Team Nigeria & Zambia’s Mupopo in Team Africa’s 4x400m @ Continental Cup!

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Team Nigeria’s trio of Folashade Abugan, Patience Okon George and Ada Benjamin will be aiming to end the season on a high as members of Team Africa’s women’s 4x400m relay team at the IAAF Continental Cup this weekend in Marrakech.

Okon George , Regina George, Benjamin, Abugan won a fourth consecutive continental title for Nigeria during last month’s African Championships in Morocco with a time of 3.28.87s, ahead of Kenya (3:32.26s) and Botswana (3:40.28s).

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However Regina was excluded from the team and will be replaced by silver medallist at the Championships, Kabange Mupopo of Zambia who posted the same time as Abugan (51.21s) in the 400m final but had to settle for second place via a photo finish. Interestingly, Mupopo is also the team captain for Zambia’s senior national football team, the ‘She-polopolo’!

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Getting to the podium this weekend will be the final icing on the cake for the Nigerian athletes, two of whom (Abugan & Okon George) won bronze at the inaugural IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas, silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a time of 3:24.71s, behind Jamaica’s 3:23.82s, and then gold at the African Championships.

The Nigerian team ranks third on the 2014 IAAF Rankings with a Season’s Best (SB) of 3:23.41s behind the USA (3:21.73s) and Jamaica (3:23.26s). Abugan and Mupopo jointly hold the 21st position in the world, having posted 51.21s as their fastest times this season. Abugan clocked the time twice to emerge National and African champion.

Okon George is 25th in the world with 51.29s while Benjamin occupies the 44th spot with a Personal Best (PB) of 51.68s, which she ran in the heats of the 400m in Marrakech.

Team Africa will go against a strong Americas field comprising of world leader Francena McCorory USA (49.48s) and the Jamaican trio of world No. 4 and Diamond League Trophy winner, NovleneWilliams-Mills (50.05s), Commonwealth Champion, Stephenie Ann McPherson (No. 5 with 50.12s) and Christine Day (No. 6 with 50.16s). The USA and Jamaican teams finished ahead of Nigeria at the IAAF Relays, while Jamaica dominated the event in Glasgow, with Nigeria following in second.

The European team is made up of Italian quartermiler, Libania Grenot (No. 10 with 50.55s), Ukranian Olha Zemlyak (No. 20 with 51.07s), Indira Terrero (No. 32 with 51.38s) and Malgorzata Holub (No. 59 with 51.84s). The reserve athletes are Elena Korobkina of Russia and Antoinette Nana Djimou of France.

Asia-Pacific will be represented by the Australian team which ranks 20th in the world with an SB of 3:30.27s. Members of the squad are Anneliese Rubie (No. 93 with 52.35s), Jessica Thornton (No. 112 with 52.50s), Kendra Hubbard, Lyndsay Pekin with Lauren Wells and Alex Hulley in reserve.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Folashade Abugan, Patience Okon George, Ada Benjamin and Kabange Mupopo (ZAM),  will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 4x400m on Sunday Sept 14th at 8.40pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Nigeria’s Asumnu and Duncan lead Africa’s chase for 4x100m honours @ Continental Cup

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Team Nigeria dominated the women’s 4x100m at the African Championships in Marrakech last month after Blessing Okagbare led the team to a fourth consecutive title in 43.56s, ahead of Cote d’Ivoire (43.99s) and Ghana (44.06s).

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However it is a mixed grill that will make an appearance at the forthcoming IAAF Continental Cup, comprising of two Nigerians, an Ivoirian and a South African. Nigeria’s Gloria Asumnu (No.36 with 11.15s) and Dominique Duncan would be in action for Team Africa in what has been an eventful season. The pair picked silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with the 4x100m team, and then struck gold in Marrakech last month. They will be joined by African Championship Silver Medallist in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, Marie J Ta Lou Gonezie (No. 43 with 11.20s) of Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa’s Justine Palframan.

Unfortunately, the absence of the continent’s top two athletes, Blessing Okagbare (No. 2 with 10.85s) and Murielle Ahouré (No. 6 with 10.97s) at the Continental Cup will be sorely felt by friends and foes alike, as their presence would have raised the bar in terms of the level of competition, and bridged the gap between the hosts and their opponents.  

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The star-studded Americas team will be led by world No. 2 (held jointly with Okagbare), Michelle Lee-Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago (10.85s) and has Diamond League trophy winner and Commonwealth silver medallist, Veronica Campbell-Brown (No. 4 with 10.86s), Tianna Bartoletta (No. 5 with 10.92s), Samantha Henry-Robinson (No. 7 with 11.00s) and Joanna Atkins (No. 11 with 11.02s) in tow. They would no doubt be the side to watch out for at the event.

Just like their male counterparts, European champions Great Britain will be representing their continent in the relay. The team is No. 3 on the IAAF 2014 Rankings, just behind Jamaica and the USA with a time of 42.21s. They won the 4x100m race at the European Championship in Zurich with a National Record (NR) of 42.25s, which eclipses the time of 42.43s set at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Competing for Team Europe are Desiree Henry (No. 50 with 11.21s), Ashleigh Nelson (No. 41 with 11.19s), Anyika Onuora and Asha Philip (No. 40 with 11.18s) No.3 with 42.21s

Asian champions Japan occupy the 33rd  spot on the world rankings with 43.74s and Yuki Jimbo, Yuki Miyazawa, Mizuki Nakamura, Maho Takamori and Tomoka Tsuchihashi make up the Asian-Pacific team.

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Gloria Asumnu (NGR), Dominique Duncan (NGR), Marie J Ta Lou Gonezie (CIV) and Justine Palframan (RSA) will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 4x100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 9.40pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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(Regina George stood in for Blessing Okagbare at the 4x100m award ceremony, as Blessing had already left Marrakech on the day of the ceremony!)

Team Nigeria to spearhead Africa’s 4x100m medal hopes @ Continental Cup

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Nigeria’s GOLD winning team in the men’s 4x100m relay at the 2014 African Senior Championships in Marrakech are the sole bearers of Team Africa’s hopes in the event at the IAAF Continental Cup holding in Morocco this weekend.

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This season has been a long one for the team which participated first at the IAAF World Relays in May without a medal, and then the Commonwealth Games where they ran alongside world leaders, Jamaica in the heats and final. National 100m champion, Mark Jelks anchored the team to second position in the heats, just behind Jamaica which had the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt in action. They eventually finished a sixth in a final which was won by the Jamaicans in a scorching 37.58s.

It was an entirely different story at the African Championships as the Nigerian quartet comprising of Ogho-Oghene Egwero (No. 90 in the world this season with 10.18s), Monzavous Edwards (No. 78), Obinna Metu (No. 173 with 10.28s) and Jelks (No. 35) who was the anchor once again, dominated the event by clocking a Season’s Best (SB) of 38.80s ahead of Ghana (39.28s) and the Algerian team which sprinted to a National Record (NR) of 39.89s.

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Jelks and Edwards finished second and third respectively in the men’s 100m with SBs of 10.07s and 10.16s respectively, while the title was won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Hua Wilfried Koffi with an NR and Personal Best (PB) of 10.05s. However the 4x100m team would be without the services of Koffi who will focus on the sprint double at the forthcoming event. The Nigerian team is 34th on the 2014 IAAF 4x100m Relay rankings.

The Americas team comes with an intimidating CV, having the likes of Richard Thompson (No. 2 with 9.82s), Michael Rodgers (No. 4 with 9.91s), Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (No. 8 with 9.96s) and veteran Kim Collins (No. 8 with 9.96s). All four athletes have done a sub-10 this season and are certainly the team to beat – it will be interesting to see how they do with their baton exchanges, given that the quadrennial continental cup is the only major competition that could see these sprinters of different nations competing on the same team!

European champions, Team GB, will represent the continent in Marrakech. They won the continental crown in a very strong 37.93s. It comprises of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (No. 40 with 10.08s), James Ellington (No. 59 with 12.13s), Richard Kilty (No. 51 with 10.12s) and Danny Talbot (No. 87 in 10.17s) – they will be expected to put up a good fight for the podium as the team ranks second on the 2014 IAAF rankings behind Jamaica.

Asian champions and world No. 10 relay team Japan, with an SB of 38.34s, will be representing Team Asian-Pacific and is made up of Masaharu Mori, Masafumi Naoki, Yu Onabuta, Kazuma Oseto (No. 141 with 10.25s) and Kotaro Taniguchi. Amongst the four teams, it would seem that Team Africa are the underdogs, give them times each team has run this season, so it will be interesting to see if they can cause an upset!

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Team Nigeria will be representing Africa in the men’s 4x100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 9.55pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Stephen Mozia goes against big names in the discus @ Continental Cup

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Stephen Mozia is Nigerian champion in the both the shot put and discus throws. However, he will be representing Team Africa at the IAAF Continental Cup this weekend in the discus throw only, alongside African champion, Victor Hogan of South Africa.

Mozia formally began competing for Nigeria at the World Indoors in Sopot this year, though he missed out on qualification for the final of the men’s shot put event. However, he had set a National Record (indoor) of 20.79m at the Ivy League Championships prior to the world indoors.

The Cornell University senior went on to set an NR of 20.38m at the NCAA East Preliminaries in May, and then won the shot put at his debut outing during the National Trials in Calabar with a distance of 18.14m, followed by Augustine Nwoye who had a throw of 17.25m. He also dominated the discus event with 53.69m while Nwoye followed again with 53.28m.

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He competed at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he finished 7th with a throw of 17.76m in the qualification round, ruling him out of the final. He placed fourth in the Men’s shot put final at the African Championships in Marrakech with 17.65m, while Nwoye finished in seventh with 16.90m. South Africa’s Orazio Cremona won with 19.84m.

However he made up for this with a bronze medal in the discus with 57.11m, though his Season’s Best (SB) of 62.80m would have seen him claim silver as eventual winner, Hogan took the title with  a distance of 62.87m, while team mate Russell Tucker with 62.15m. Mozia makes the selection into the African team since the top two in the event were from the same country and cannot both represent the continent.

Mozia ranks 53rd in the world this year, with Hogan being twenty spots ahead (No.33) with an SB of 64.16m. The pair would be contending against World No. 7 and 24 respectively inTeam Americas’ Jorge Fernandez (66.50m) and Jason Morgan (64.72m). Gerd Kanter of Estonia (No. 10) would be spearheading the European attack and he comes with an SB of 66.02m. His teammate is Poland’s Robert Urbanek whose effort of 65.75m puts him at No. 17 on the rankings.

Former Commonwealth champion and silver medallist at the last Continental Cup, Benn Harradine (No. 13) will be hoping to upgrade to a gold medal this time around and comes with a best performance of 65.94m. He is joined by Sultan Mubarak Al-Dawoodi (No. 132) in the Asian-Pacific team. 

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Stephen Mozia will be representing Team Africa in the men’s discus throw on Sunday Sept 14th from 6.50pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Dominique Duncan goes head-to-head with Schippers, Soumaré in 200m @ Continental Cup!

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Team Nigeria’s Dominique Duncan is set to take her place amongst some of the world’s best athletes in the women’s 200m as the IAAF Continental Cup takes off in Morocco this weekend.

Duncan first donned the green and white colours this year, having switched allegiance from the USA, and she placed third at the National Trials with a time of 23.91s, behind Blessing Okagbare (22.62s) and Gloria Asumnu (23.54s).

Her first outing for Nigeria was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where she competed in the 200m and 4x100m relay. She missed out on an appearance in the final of the 200m but took silver in the relay with the team, which finished behind Jamaica in the final with a time of 42.92s.

She was at the African Championships in Marrakech a week later, where she claimed her first continental title in the relays, then comfortably led her heat in the 200m. She finished second behind Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie J Ta Lou in the semis, clocking 23.44s, and qualified for the final alongside team mates, defending champion, Gloria Asumnu and Regina George.

The race was a battle for superiority between Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire’s duo of Ta Lou and double silver medallist at the 2013 World Championships, Murielle Ahouré. However it turned out to be 1-2 for the Ivoirians, with Ahouré taking the win in 22.36s, while Duncan was the surprise medallist from the Nigerian camp, winning bronze in 22.98s. Asumnu and George placed fifth and sixth respectively.

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She said, “This medal is a victory for the team. Some may have thought that I didn’t stand a chance against Ahouré, but you always have to believe. You speak into existence and it happens. I was trying to get up here to get a medal that I can take home and I’m pretty pleased with it. The Continental Cup means more training; it’s just a mental thing and you need to be prepared for it.”

She is ranked No. 31 in the world with a Season’s Best (SB) of 22.82s, while teammate, Ta Lou, incidentally, is five places lower with 22.87s. 

World No. 2 and European double sprint champion, Dafne Schippers (22.03s) of the Netherlands is the standout athlete to watch out for, along with Myriam Soumaré (No. 3) who posted a scorching Personal Best (PB) of 22.11s at the final leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels. Joanna Atkins (No. 7 with 22.27s) and Team Americas partner, Anthonique Strachan (No. 12 with 22.50s) are also key contenders in the race. Their Asian-Pacific rivals comprise of Olga Safronova, (No. 34) with 22.85s, while Melissa Breen is further down at the 158th spot (23.37s).

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Dominique Duncan will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 200m on Sunday Sept 14th at 7.35pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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African Long Jump Champion Ese Brume squares up to World No.1 @ Continental Cup

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Two years ago, the name Ese Brume barely rang a bell. The Delta State athlete has made tremendous progress since her 2012 National Sports Festival (NSF) win and has now been catapulted into international reckoning as she goes against the world’s best athletes at the forthcoming IAAF Continental Cup this weekend, where she will be representing Team Africa in the women’s long jump.

The young athlete has garnered an enviable collection of titles and records, ranging from the African junior and senior titles, record holder in the African junior event, national champion and Commonwealth gold medallist! She finished second behind Okagbare at the National Trials in 2013 and stepped up to the position of national champion this year with a Personal Best of 6.68m in Calabar.

Brume experienced a setback at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon in July, where she failed to make it out of the qualifying rounds with a jump of 5.18m, despite coming to the championship as favourite for the crown. But she blew her fans away with an impressive comeback at the Commonwealth Games, leading the field with a leap of 6.56m and brushing aside threats from her more experienced rivals.She came to the African Championships in Marrakech as the favoured athlete and she didn’t disappoint as Nigeria made it a 1-2 in the event, with team mate Chinazom Amadi finishing second with 6.40m while Brume struck gold with a jump of 6.50m.

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She comes to the IAAF Continental Cup with Cameroun’s Joelle Mbumi who has a Season’s Best (SB) of 6.35m, which puts her at No. 133 on the IAAF 2014 Rankings while the Nigerian is No. 25. Brume told Making of Champions that she’s excited about competing in her first Continental Cup: “I’m looking forward to doing better at the IAAF Continental Cup where I will represent the continent. My dream is to become the world’s best”, she said.             

And so she will be going against the world’s best athlete in 2014 and IAAF Diamond League winner, Tianna Bartoletta of the USA (7.02m). Canadian Christabel Nettey who won bronze behind Brume in Glasgow will also compete in the Americas team. She is No. 19 in the rankings with a distance of 6.73m. Winner of the Zurich leg of the Diamond league series and world No. 3, Eloyse Lesueur (6.92m) and European Championships silver medallist, Ivana Spanovic (No. 8 with 6.88m) will be competing as well. They will be joined by the Asian-Pacific team comprising of Australia’s Margaret Gayen (No. 31 with 6.62m) and Lu Minjia (No. 41, 6.57m).

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Ese Brume will be representing Team Africa in the women’s long jump on Sunday Sept 14th from 7.40pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Gloria Asumnu to face world’s best in 100m @ Continental Cup

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Nigerian sprinter Gloria Asumnu will represent Team Africa in the 100m at theIAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech this weekend, following the withdrawal of national, African and Commonwealth champion, Blessing Okagbare.

The competition was meant to be Okagbare’s last outing for the season, but her sixth place finish in the 200m at the second final of the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels last week was perhaps an indication that the African record holder needed to take a break after a long and eventful season, which saw her emerge as double sprint champion at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and African title holder in Marrakech.

Her place in the African team will now be taken by Asumnu, who finished second at the National Trials in Calabar in June where she clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.15s. The former African 200m champion will now team up with Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie J Ta Lou Gonezie to represent the African continent in the 100m.

Asumnu represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games where she placed eight in the final and won silver in the 4x100m behind Jamaica. She proceeded to the African Championships where she finished fourth in the final which had three Nigerians, with a time of 11.49s, while Lawretta Ozoh placed seventh in 11.74s.

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She also ran the first leg in the 4x100m race, which was won by Nigeria. However she lost her 200m crown to double silver medallist at the 2013 World Championships, Murielle Ahouré (22.36s), finishing fifth this time around, while team mate, Dominique Duncan emerged the surprise medallist, taking bronze in 22.98s.

Asumnu’s SB puts her 36th in 2014 world rankings, and incidentally ranks higher than Ta Lou Gonezie who has posted 11.20s as her fastest time this season, and is 43rd on the list. They will be facing Michelle-Lee Ahye and Veronica Campbell-Brown who will be representing the Americas. Ahye has the second fastest time in 2014 (10.85s), while Campbell-Brown is No.4 with 10.86s.

They would also have to be wary of the threat the European pair of Dafne Schippers and Myriam Soumaré pose, as they jointly occupy the 13th spot in the rankings with 11.03s and would be aiming to go under 11s for the first time. Asia-Pacific’s Melissa Breen (24th with 11.11s) and Olga Safronova (54th with 11.23s) complete the field.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Gloria Asumnu will be representing Team Africa in the women’s 100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 8.40pm.

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Tyron Akins leads Team Africa against strong 110m Hurdles field @ Continental Cup!

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Nigerian and African 110m Hurdles champion, Tyron Akins, will face the world’s best hurdlers in Marrakech as the IAAF Continental Cup takes center stage this weekend.

Akins, who recently switched allegiances from Team USA to Nigeria, emerged national 110 hurdles champion at the National Trials in Calabar in June and has not looked back since. The Continental Cup will become the third international outing for the hurdler who is keen on maintaining his winning streak.

His first appearance for Nigeria was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he missed out on the finals, finishing seventh in the heats with 13.77s. However Tyrone more than made up for this disappointment by leading teammates Alex Al-Ameen and Martins Ogierakhi in a clean sweep of all the medals at stake in the 110 hurdles at the African Championships last month.

He posted a time of 13.57s, while Al-Ameen and Ogierakhi clocked 13.78s and 13.80s respectively. The last time Nigeria won the 110m hurdles was in 1996 when national record holder in the event, William Erese mounted the podium in Yaounde, Cameroun!

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After the race, an excited Akins said, “Well I feel good because our goal when we were coming here was 1-2-3. We never said Tyron you win, and this guy second or any of that. It was strictly 1-2-3. We were going to push each other like we always do. I knew I had a pretty good start so those guys know I was going to get out of the blocks, so once I get out, you come with me and we gonna be good to go.

“I know that these guys are going to come towards the end. Martins is a strong competitor so he’s going to be there all through the race. Our goal was accomplished; it was 1-2-3. It could have gone either way; he could have won, we could have run 14s as long as Nigeria won the medals, that was what we were worried about but the focus was 1-2-3.”

Despite an unprecedented 1-2-3 finish in Marrakech however, Akins will be without his Nigerian teammates at the Continental Cup, where athletes from the same nation cannot represent their continent in the same event. Instead he will partner with South Africa’s Ruan De Vries who finished fourth at the African Championships. Akins’ Season’s Best of 13.56s puts him at  63rd  in the world rankings this year, while the South African follows ten places after with a time of 13.62s.

Leading the Americas team is World No.3, Ronnie Ash of the USA who is the only sub-13s performer in the field (12.99s). Cuba’s Yodan O’Farrill is No.10 with 13.19s. Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov (13.13s) is world No.5 this year and finished 2nd in the IAAF Diamond League standings after Pascal Martinot-Lagarde who amassed 27points.  William Sharman of Team GB is No.7 with a time of 13.16s, while No.14, Xie Wenjun of China (13.23s) and Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel (63rd) would represent the Asian-Pacific interest.

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Tyron Akins will be representing Team Africa in the men’s 110m hurdles on Sunday Sept 14th at 6.45pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm

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Tosin Oke closes his ‘Year of the Silver’ with Team Africa @ Continental Cup!

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The forthcoming IAAF Continental Cup slated to hold between September 13th and 14th in Morocco may be third time lucky for Nigerian triple jump champion,  Tosin Oke’s who will be making his third visit to Marrakech in as many months.

The five-time national champion competed at the at the Mohammed VI d’Athletisme IAAF World Challenge meeting in Marrakech in June where he dominated the star-studded field which included the likes of former Commonwealth champion, Phillips Idowu, former Olympic and world champion, Nelson Evora and South Africa’s Godfrey Mokoena.

He thereafter left for the National Trials in Calabar where he picked his fifth crown with a wind-aided 17.21m, which was just 2cm off his Personal Best (PB) of 17.23m. He made his solo IAAF Diamond League appearance in Glasgow where he placed fourth with a leap of 16.51m, trailing after Christian Taylor (17.36m), Will Claye (17.27m) and Chris Benard (16.54m).

His second visit to Marrakech wasn’t as favourable as he relinquished his African title to Mokoena, leaving as silver medallist instead. Prior to the African Championships in Marrakech, the South African had also dethroned Oke as Commonwealth champion with a Season’s Best (SB) of 17.20m, while the Nigerian recorded a distance of 16.84m.

The gap wasn’t as wide at the African Championships but Mokoena won the GOLD again with his very first jump of 17.03m. Tosin recorded 16.60m in his first attempt, then moved up to 16.96m in the second. He had an SB of 16.97m in his final attempt to give his opponent some anxious moments before settling for Silver again. Olumide Olamigoke took sixth with a jump of 16.18m, after his fourth place finish in Glasgow with 16.56m.

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Team Africa’s Mokoena and Oke currently occupy 9th and 18th respectively in the world rankings and will have to contend with former world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist, Claye who comes to the meeting with an impressive SB of 17.75m. His team mate Jonathan Silva of Brazil is 21st with 16.96m. The American finished second in the IAAF Diamond League final standings with 16 points behind Olympic champion, Taylor.

Europe’s Benjamin Compaore (5th with 17.46m) and Lyukman Adams (6th with 17.29m) were also active in the Diamond League series and finished third and fourth respectively in the event, while the Asia-Pacific team comprises of China’s Cao Shuo and Renjith Maheswary (53rd with 16.54m).

Perhaps Tosin’s return to Marrakech for the third time will create the perfect atmosphere for another podium performance, even though it is not certain how much of a priority the Continental Cup ranks in his view. He revealed to MoC during an earlier interview that his markers for the season were the African Championships and Commonwealth Games.

He said, “If I retain my Commonwealth title, it will be a success and if I retain my African title, it will be a huge success. Those are the markers for my season; I’m not really interested in Silver or Bronze. I’d like to get GOLD medals; that’s what I do all this work for and that’s how I will work out how good my season is.”

Having just missed out on retaining both titles, it certainly has been the year of the Silver for Tosin – let’s see what he can do at the Continental Cup against some of the world’s best!

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Tosin Oke will be representing Team Africa in the men’s triple jump on Sunday Sept 14th from 5.45pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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