Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa – the powerhouse of African Athletics

6 Nov

The breakthrough performances of many South African athletes in 2014 has confirmed the country’s status as the reigning powerhouse of athletics on the continent.

There is no denying that South Africa’s dominance in African athletics, took a sharp nosedive since their triumph at the 2008 African Championships in Addis Ababa, which completed a hat-trick of consecutive titles won at the continental championship in the past decade.

Since then, the country has witnessed two back to back third place finishes, relinquishing the top spot first to Kenya in 2010 and then Nigeria in 2012, statistically indicating a loss of form of their athletes by over fifty percent in the past four years.

Simon Magakwe's blistering NR of 9.98s earned him the continent's top spot in 2014.  (Photo Credit: http://www.athleticsnews.co.za).

Simon Magakwe’s blistering NR of 9.98s was the fastest time posted by an African in 2014.
(Photo Credit: http://www.athleticsnews.co.za)

However there was a reversal of fortunes in 2014 with an outstanding season which started off at the South African Championships in April, where a new National Record (NR) of 9.98s was set by Simon Magakwe in the 100m. Other highlights included Cornel Fredericks dethroning record holder L.J. Van Zyl in the 400m hurdles, before relatively unknown Wayde Van Niekerk (men’s 400m), Wenda Theron Nel (women’s 400m hurdles) and Rikenette Steenkamp (women’s 100m hurdles) each won their events.

Two months later, at the Diamond League meeting in New York, Niekerk sensationally broke the 15 year old NR, posting a time of 44.38s, thereby, announcing himself globally as a potential Commonwealth Games and African medalist in his event.

Silver medallist Wayde van Niekerk, gold medallist Kirani James and bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon pose with their medals. (Photo Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images Europe)

Wayde van Niekerk (L), won silver behind Kirani James in Glasgow.
(Photo Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images Europe)

The athletes took this form to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where six of them won medals. Khotso Mokoena dethroned Nigeria’s Tosin Oke to win the men’s triple jump while Zarck Visser and Rushwahl Samaai took silver and bronze respectively in the long jump. Fredericks also struck gold in the 400m hurdles while Niekerk and two time Commonwealth Games champion, Sunette Viljoen (javelin) settled for silver.

Unsurprisingly, all six athletes got to the podium at the African Championships which followed a week later in Marrakech, Morocco. Mokoena denied defending champion, Oke a third consecutive title, making him the first South African to win the event, while Fredericks was unstoppable as he dethroned Nigeria’s Amaechi Morton in the hurdles.

Mokoena won gold ahead of Nigeria's Tosin Oke.

Khotso Mokoena twice won gold ahead of Nigeria’s Tosin Oke in the men’s triple jump.

Cornel Fredericks who has been in fantastic form this season scooped the African and Commonwealth Games titles.

Cornel Fredericks who has been in fantastic form this season, scooped the African, Commonwealth and IAAF Continental Cup titles in the 400m hurdles.

Viljoen continued her unbeaten streak by throwing a Season’s Best (SB) and new Championship Record (CR) of 65.32m to win her fourth African title. She now has more Javelin GOLD medals from the African Championship than any other athlete, male or female, in the 35 year old history of the event.

In the women’s 400m hurdles, Theron Nel beat her Nigerian counterpart, Amaka Ogoegbunam to the title in 55.32s. The hurdler has come a long way from her fifth place finish in Port Novo two years ago (57.06s) after running a PB of 54.82s this season, making her the 13th fastest in the world this year and faster than any other Nigerian athlete since 2012, when Ajoke Odumosu clocked a PB of 54.40s in the semi-finals at the London Olympics.

Sunette Viljoen capped the 2014 season with a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and fourth African title in Marrakech. (Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Sunette Viljoen capped the 2014 season with a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and fourth African title in Marrakech.
(Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac)

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Wenda Theron Nel overcame Nigeria’s Amaka Ogoegbunam to win her first African title in the women’s 400m hurdles.

It was a similar story in the women’s 100m hurdles as Steenkamp scooped the country’s first gold medal in the history of the championships.
The South Africans dominated the field events and virtually had representatives to compete with Nigerian athletes in almost every final, comparable to the stiff competition and rivalry that exists between the Jamaicans and Americans at major events.

Although, the country couldn’t win any medal in the sprints after coming to the championships with six of the continent’s Top 10 fastest male athletes in 2014, it doesn’t take away the fact that they have Africa’s fastest man this season (Magakwe with his 9.98s).

Rikenette Steenkamp was not left out in the gold rush as she added the African title to her national crown in the 100m hurdles.

Rikenette Steenkamp was not left out in the gold rush as she added the African title to her national crown in the 100m hurdles.

This is a commendable feat, seeing that no Nigerian athlete has been able to go under the 10s mark since Olusoji Fasuba in 2006, when he set the current African Record of 9.85s, making him No.1 on the list of Africa’s top sprinters.

Also, they recorded a non-podium finish in the 200m, a race which they conveniently won in 2008 (Thuso Mpuang and Isabel Le Roux, both posting PBs of 20.53s and 22.69s respectively), while Nigeria has not won the race since Uchenna Emedolu stormed to the title in 2006.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) President Aleck Sichosana threw down the gauntlet with these words, after his country reclaimed the continent’s No.1 ranking at the conclusion of the Championships:
“Our athletes’ performances in Marrakech have redefined South Africa as the powerhouse of athletics in the continent”.

South Africa dominated most of the field events at the African Championships in Marrakech and emerged overall winners of the competition. (Photo Credit: AthleticsAfrica)

South Africa emerged overall winners at the African Championships in Marrakech.
(Photo Credit: AthleticsAfrica)

South Africa’s rising profile should serve as a challenge to Nigeria, who once occupied the enviable position as the continent’s best as far as Track and Field is concerned, but is now gradually losing its position, going by the threats being posed not just by South Africa in the short/middle distant races, but other African nations such as Cote d’Ivoire and Botswana.

The success of South African athletes in 2014 projects how much more they can achieve in years to come with most of their athletes just nearing the peak of their careers. The athletes are definitely going to be a force to watch out for, not only in Africa, but world athletics at large.

(Photo Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Europe)

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(Photo Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: http://www.sport24.co.za)

(Photo Credit: http://www.sport24.co.za)

(Photo Credit: http://spikes.iaaf.org)

(Photo Credit: http://spikes.iaaf.org)

(Photo Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images Europe)

(Photo Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images Europe)

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

12 Sep

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.

Stephen Mozia

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!

Stephen+Mozia+20th+Commonwealth+Games+Athletics+LQAwKnlKSPTl

Marrakech ’14 Day 4 RECAP: Tosin Oke settles for Silver in Triple Jump as Oduduru, Asumnu reach 200m finals!

13 Aug

Five-time national triple jump champion, Tosin Oke had to make do with Silver for the second time in as many weeks as he was beaten to gold by South Africa’s Godfrey Mokoena on Wednesday at the African Athletics Championships in Marrakech.

Oke, the defending champion, had won the title back to back (in Kenya four years ago and the last edition in Port Novo in 2012), but could not out-leap Mokoena who won gold with 17.03m which he secured in his very first jump of the evening. Oke made a leap of 16.96m in his second attempt and improved on it by 1cm in his very last attempt, which is his Season’s Best (SB).

The duo met in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games less than a fortnight ago where the South African also stripped his Nigerian counterpart of his Commonwealth title with a distance of 17.20m, while Oke followed in second position in 16.84m. Thankfully though, he will still get to compete at the IAAF Continental Cup slated to hold between September 13 and 14 in Marrakech. His team mate and Nigeria’s No.2, Olu Olamigoke finished in sixth position with 16.18m. He narrowly missed out on a medal in Glasgow where he finished fourth with a distance of 16.56m.

Nigeria’s best prospect for a medal in the men’s 200m, Divine Oduduru qualified for the final of the men’s 200m, having finished second in the semi-finals and first in the heats ahead of Cote d’Ivoire’s Wilfried Koffi Hua. He has set up an explosive meeting with the Ivoirian who is the newly crowned African 100m Champion as well Africa’s No.1, Isaac Makwala who has returned 19.96s this season. Mark Jelks and Seye Ogunlewe also took part in the heats but pulled out of the semis for undisclosed reasons.

The trio of Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan and Regina George all qualified for the women’s 200m final which promises to be a Nigeria versus Cote d’Ivoire final as double World Championships Silver Medallist and Africa’s No.2, Murielle Ahouré and Marie Ta Lou Gonezie will be aiming for the top two spots. Following the absence of Blessing Okagbare who pulled out of the 200m and would have been the major contender for gold, the focus will mostly be on houré who looks good for GOLD as she virtually jogged through the heats and semis. However her compatriot, Lou Gonezie looks in fine form to possibly deny Asumnu and the other Nigerians a medal spot, as she has the fastest time from the semis, 23.03s.

Amaka Ogoegbunam easily sailed through the heats in the 400m hurdles and has positioned herself for gold, wining her heat with 56.49s ahead of Morocco’s Hayat Lambarki who is a former African Champion. Her time was also the second fastest in the heats, though compatriot Kemi Francis wasn’t as lucky as she finished seventh in Heat 2 in 1:01.42. Abiye David placed third in her heat in 2:08.58, behind Kenya’s Eunice Sum and Ethiopia’s Lidiya Melese in the women’s 800m, which wasn’t good enough to see her through to the final.

Nigeria moved one place down on the medals table as South Africa regained the top position with eight gold, five silver and two bronze medals. Nigeria follows with seven gold, six silver and five bronze medals while Kenya is third with two gold gold, one silver and five bronze medals.

On Thursday which is the final day of competition, Nigeria will compete in the women’s shot put, women’s triple jump, women’s 400m hurdles, men and women’s 200m and men and women’s 4x400m relays.

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