Hua Wilfried Koffi is standout athlete of African Champs ’14, after grabbing Sprint Double with TWO National Records!

17 Aug

He was not even considered to be a major contender for gold at the 2014 African Senior Championships but Cote d’Ivoire’s Hua Wilfried Koffi has turned out to be the star athlete of the tournament as he raced to the sprint double with National Records (NR) in both the 100m & 200m!

He has also etched his name in the annals of history as the third man to achieve this feat, after Nigeria’s Victor Omagbemi set the pace at the 1992 Championships, while Former World and Commonwealth Champion over 200m, Frankie Fredericks of Namibia did same a decade later in Tunisia.

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The 26-year old was not even listed among the continent’s Top 10 in the 100m prior to the championships as he came to Marrakech with a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.21s. South Africa’s Simon Magakwe and Akani Simbine as well as Nigeria’s Mark Jelks were considered top contenders for the highly coveted title, but it was the Ivorian who stormed to the title on Day 2 of the competition with a Personal Best (PB) and National Record of 10.05s ahead of the Nigerian pair of Jelks and Monzavous Edwards. It is also the fourth fastest time recorded by an African this season. Ogho-Oghene Egwero finished fifth in the race.

Koffi admitted that he felt a bit scared going against Nigeria in the 100m as the country is reputed to have the best sprinters on the continent.

He said, “When I woke up this morning I said God please help me to win this race and my coach sent me a message that I was going to break my record. He said ‘just think that you are alone in the race’, and I did. There were three Nigerians in the final, and Nigerians are known for their prowess in the sprints so when you go against them you feel a little bit afraid. But I asked God to help me and my dream materialized.”

Not done with winning the ultimate prize and setting records, Koffi, who was rated Africa’s No.5 over 200m with a time of 20.45s stunned the continent’s fastest man over the distance, Isaac Makwala, in the finals as he set another PB and NR of 20.25s, while the Batswana followed in 20.51s. Prior to the championships, Lesotho’s Mosito Lehata (20.36s), and the South African pair of Akani Simbine (20.37s) and Titi Ncicihli (20.41s) had faster times but eventually succumbed to the Ivorian’s superior strides.

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Koffi is no stranger to the African Championships though, as he is making his third appearance in the biannual competition. He won bronze over the 100m at the 2012 championships in Benin and added another bronze medal at the 2013 Universaide where he competed for Shanghai University. However his recent feat is surprising for an athlete who is not yet sure of how far he intends to pursue a career in athletics, as he gets set to commence a doctorate programme in China.

“I train in China”, he told MoC. “When I told someone about it, they were surprised. It’s really not easy in China because we do not have many competitors there. I train alone and my coach is based in Germany so I receive my training programme via text messages or email but God just helps me to train every day. I don’t know for how long I will continue to train there because I am about to start a PHD programme in September. I don’t know if I will leave the track or if I will continue.”

Qualifying for the Continental Cup is a big deal for Koffi who says his goal is to do a sub-10 at the championships:

“The next step is to prepare for the continental Cup. My expectations are high because it is a dream come true for me; it’s a big deal. My aim is to break the 10s barrier and run as fast as Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba who ran 9.85s.”

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If Koffi Hua was the standout athlete of the tournament, and honourable mention must go to Isaac Makwala, who became the African 400m Record Holder this season, and was also the fastest on the continent over the 200m this season (both times were set on the same day). At these championships, Makwala won the 400m, finished 2nd a couple of days later in the 200m, and then returned a couple of hours later to lead Botswana to a stunning GOLD in the 4x400m over Nigeria in a new National Record!

 

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