African Countries at the London Olympics -- Continued from Page OneThe Olympic Games give many African athletes a chance to compete against the world's best. If you're traveling in Africa during the London Olympics (2012) you may find coverage of events you never knew existed. Every African country will be following its own medal hopefuls. Below I've listed some individual African country information regarding Olympic squads, star athletes, medal contenders and more (continued from page one).
Namibia won't have their Olympic hero Frankie Fredericks this time around, but local sprinting sensation Tjipekapora Herunga will try and take his place in the medal standings. She will compete in the 400m sprint. Merlin Diamond is a young promising athlete from Windhoek, with an amazing personal story (Source: BBC) "For the last 20 years, Merlin's mother has worked for Jeanne and Herman Davin in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. Merlin grew up with Jeanne and Herman's two daughters, Suzelle and Janine - both passionate about athletes. In 2006, both girls died in a car crash. Out of the tragedy though, the Davins set up the Janine and Suzelle Davin Sports Trust. Merlin is a beneficiary of that trust". She will compete in the 100m and 200m sprints. A further 7 athletes have qualified for shooting, cycling, wresting, boxing, mountain biking and athletics. Not bad for an African country with just 2 million inhabitants.
Nigeria will send 31 Athletes (13 men and 18 women) most of them in track and field. Female sprinters to watch out for include Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu, Christy Udoh and Lawretta Ozoh. Male athletes with a medal chance include hurdler Amaechi Morton and Tosin Oke in the triple jump. Shot putter Vivian Chukwuemeka is also a strong medal contender. Nigeria's basketball team just made it through qualifiers, and will be representing their country in London for their Olympic debut. More about Nigeria's athletes...
Rwanda has four athletes competing in London, Alphonsine Agahozo who will compete in 50m freestyle swimming, marathon runner Jean Pierre Mvuyekure, Fred Yannick Uwase Sekamana who will compete in judo and long distance runner Robert Kajuga.
Senegal has 16 competitors going to the Olympics in a wide variety of sporting events. These include canoeing, judo, taekwondo, and fencing. Senegal's female track athletes have had previous success, Aminata Diouf and Amy Mbacké Thiam are major track and field stars and both have competed in past Olympic games. Ndiss Kaba Badji is a popular long-jumper and medal hopeful. The young Teranga Lions (Senegal's under 23 soccer team) hope to do their country proud in their first Olympic games.
Somalia is sending 2 athletes to the London Olympics. The athletes train in a dilapidated stadium, ridden with bullet holes in northern Mogadishu, they are runners Samsam Mohamed Farah and Mohamed Hassan Mohamed. "Diet, equipment and facilities remain the biggest problems even after al Shabaab were ousted last year. They eat bread, camel meat, fruit and eggs for breakfast, while lunch usually consists of spaghetti or rice with meat and camel milk. Due to lack of energy drinks, most of them use just basic mango juice" (source: Somalicare).
South Africa is a sports mad country and this is reflected in their squad, which is Africa's largest and numbers over 130 athletes. South Africans qualified in field hockey, shooting, swimming, track and field, bmx, rowing, canoeing, archery, cycling and fencing. In London, the South African team has a potential shot at 12 medals which they hope to get in the swimming, cycling and rowing events. This may be an optimistic assessment, since the huge squad only managed to win one medal (silver) in Beijing (2008).
One of the biggest local stories in the run up to the London Olympics concerns 400m runner Oscar Pistorious. He just scraped through qualifying for both the relay and individual races. The amazing thing is - he has no legs. They call him the "blade runner", he is an amputee and speeds his way round the track on carbon fiber prosthetics called Cheetah Blades. In 2008, long-distance swimmer Natalie du Toit made headlines for qualifying for the, Olympics was the first female amputee ever to do so (the last amputee was Olivér Halassy in 1936).
Caster Semenya, the world champion 800m runner will be on the 2012 Olympic squad. She gained fame during an amazing race in 2009, when doubts about her gender surfaced. The poor woman went through the ringer at that time, but has managed to stay on track and hopes to medal. Other track and field medal contenders include hurdler LJ van Zyl, and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen.
South Africa has 16 swimmers competing at the Olympic games and one diver. Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos are the team's leading medal contenders.
Sudan will send at least 7 athletes to the Games. In 2008 Sudan's only medal came from a silver in the 800m, in 2012 runner Abubaker Kaki is hoping to take on the Kenyans and win the first ever gold medal in the 800m for his country.
The Sudanese athletes are woefully short of decent training grounds and are largely sponsored by British charities, in stark contrast to their neighbors, Ethiopia and Kenya who have some very robust athletic programs in place with lots of sponsorship opportunities for individual athletes.
South Sudan had several Olympic hopefuls including Oyiki Serino, but lack of funding and a host of more pressing domestic problems has meant the country has failed to be officially recognized by the Olympic committee as a bona fide, paying member... read more. As a last minute reprieve, the Olympic committee decided to allow marathon runner Guor Marial a chance to go to London. Born in South Sudan, he now lives in the US but is not a citizen. He will take part under the Olympic flag (along with 3 athletes from the Netherlands Antilles).
Tanzania has 6 Olympic hopefuls competing in London, including 8 track and field competitors and 2 swimmers. Athletes include: Msenduki Mohamed, Samson Ramadhan Nyonyi and Faustine Mussa (marathon). Others are Seleman Kidunda (boxer), Zakia Mrisho (5000m) and Magdelene Moshi (swimming 100m free style). Tanzania has not won an Olympic medal since the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and it's somewhat unlikely they will in 2012, in stark contrast to their Kenyan neighbors due largely to a lack of funding and decent training programs.
Togo is sending five athletes to compete in London. Togo sent just two athletes to Beijing 2008, and Benjamin Boukpeti won the country's first Olympic medal, a bronze in canoeing. The four other athletes to travel to London will compete in Judo, swimming and athletics. They include; Sacha Kouami Denanyoh (Judo), Lamboni Lankantien (400m), Napo Bamab (100m) and Kpossi Adjo Rébécca (swimming). As with many African athletes from smaller African nations, Benjamin did not live in Togo and only visited the country once during his childhood. Despite this, the Togolese are very proud of the medal. Togo may have had the best average medal haul per participant of any Olympic nation in 2008.
Tunisia has a large Olympic squad which includes athletics, boxing, canoeing, handball, fencing, swimming (Oussama Mellouli, Ahmed Mathlouthi, Taki Mrabet and Sarra Lajnef), wrestling, and tennis. Swimmer Oussama Mellouli became the first African male to win gold at an Olympic swimming event in Beijing (2008), he's looking to repeat his victory. Tunisia's men's basketball team will make their Olympic debut. Wajdi Bouallegue will compete in men's gymnastics competition and will be the first African to do so.
Uganda failed to qualify several athletes for the London Olympics, because the stadium they should have used to record their time trials was hosting a Japanese Happy Science religious convention (read more). But team Uganda still has some excellent athletes heading to London, including steeplechaser Dorcus Inzikuru and Africa's number 1 badminton player, Edwin Ekiring.
Zambia is sending a boxer and six athletes, who are looking to attain personal bests and not necessarily medals, including Zambian 100m champion Chauness Choosha. The other athletes include Judoka Boas Munyonga, runners Prince Mumba and Gerald Phiri, and swimmers Jade Howard and Zane Jordan. Unfortunately Zambia's best medal hope, long-distance runner Tony Wamulwa, was injured in a car accident a few weeks before the start of the Olympics.
Zimbabwe, is sending 13 athletes to the Olympics. Kirsty Coventry is Zimbabwe's biggest medal hopeful, she won 3 medals in Athens (2004) and 4 medals (one gold and three silver) in Beijing (2008). After this success ABC news reported "Several newborn babies were named Kirsty, some with the middle name Coventry, others were even called "Goldmedal" or "Threemedals" to celebrate her Athens haul." Needless to say there is tremendous pressure on Kirsty to repeat her performance in London, despite battling a knee injury. Six other athletes will join Coventry in London: marathon runners Wirimai Juwawo, Cutbert Nyasango and Sharon Tavengwa, triathlete Chris Felgate, and rowers Jamie Fraser-Mckenzie and Micheen Thornycroft.
Sources and More About African Olympic Athletes:
Individual African Countries at the Olympics ... Page One
Africa's London Olympics - Results and Final Medal Count