Africa will be well represented at the Summer Olympic Games in London from 27 July to 12 August (2012). If you are traveling in Africa during the Olympics 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.
Ethiopia, and Kenya have the best chance of winning the most medals at the Olympics. Their athletes are phenomenal, their Olympic programs run deep and they rule the long and middle distance events. South Africa has the biggest squad going to the London Olympics and they hope to improve on their single medal in Beijing (2008). The biggest story for their squad is the 400 m runner who has qualified for the Olympics, Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who runs on blades instead of feet.
Boxing allows many smaller sporting African countries to be represented in the Olympics (like Algeria, Botswana, Cameroon, Swaziland, DRC). Badminton, taekwondo and judo are also offering African athletes a chance to compete on the world stage. Cycling is a budding sport in Africa, the east Africans in particular are starting to make an impact. Eritrea is sending it’s first cyclist to the London Olympics to compete.
Athletes from Somalia will compete despite appalling training conditions and lack of funding. Botswana has their first potential Olympic medal winner running the 400m (more below). But the poor athletes from Southern Sudan won’t be able to compete. The country has failed to put up a team and apply to be an Olympic member as there are obviously more pressing matters to attend to.
Individual African Countries at the Olympics
Algeria is sending more than 30 contestants to the London Olympics including six track athletes. The women’s volleyball team (Africa’s only women’s volleyball side in the Games) is having some visa issues and have missed some pre-Olympic practice games. Hopefully they will still perform their best in the opening game against Japan.
Angola’s basketball team is Africa’s best (both women and men) and they’re hoping to contend for a medal. Angola is also sending medal hopeful Antonia de FÃ¡tima “Faia” to the games, she recently won a bronze judo medal at the recent world championship in Romania. Boxer Mtumba Silva (+90 kg) will also be participating, along with a handful of swimmers and canoeists.
Benin is sending 2 athletes to compete in boxing and judo in London 2012.
Botswana Amantle Montsho has an excellent chance of bringing home her country’s first Olympic medal. She is the reigning world champion in the 400m. As a young girl, she ran after ostriches through the vast dry farmlands to get to school in northern Botswana. Her father ran a small store selling basic goods and was told his daughter ran “like a boy”. Find out more about Amantle from this NYT article. Amantle will be joined by fellow 400m runner Nijel Amos, who will compete in the men’s race. Botswana will also send one boxer, Oteng Oteng, who was the only qualifier to make it to London 2012.
Burkina Faso plans to send athletes to compete in athletics, fencing, swimming and judo.
Cameroon has a relatively large squad of 44 athletes competing in 11 sports heading to the London Olympics. The team includes a rower, four boxers, two swimmers, one table tennis player and two weightlifters. Popular athletes include triple jumper Hugo Mamba-Schlick and wrestler Ali Anabel Laure. Cameroon’s women soccer team will be representing Africa (along with South Africa).
Cape Verde – Long distance runner Ruben Sanca will compete in the 5,000 m event.
RD Congo is sending 14 athletes to compete in six disciplines: Athletics, Judo, Table Tennis, Tae Kwando, Swimming, and Boxing.
DRC is sending 7 athletes to London in six different sports: Athletics, Swimming, Judo, Boxing, Table Tennis, Taekwondo. The DRC’s only realistic medal hope is Cedrick Mandembo (Judo) who recently came 5th in the World Championships held in Brazil.
Egypt Despite the revolution and the upheaval it brought along with it since the last Olympics in Beijing, Egyptians will be supporting their athletes in: weightlifting, shooting, wrestling, sailing, swimming, badminton, boxing, archery, rowing, gymnastics, fencing and football. Egypt has just over 100 contestants competing in these events with no obvious medal contenders except perhaps in weightlifting, but they will be an interesting team to watch. Track stars include Mohamed Hamada in the 800 m and Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud who qualified for the 100 m and 200 m. Seoud was one of the first protestors to head to Tahrir square on January 25th 2011, which sparked off Egypt’s revolution.
Ethiopia has a great chance of winning several gold medals. Kenenisa Bekele is healthy and will lead his talented team mates and aim for gold in both 5000 m and 10000 m events. Watch out for youngster Mohammed Aman who has been winning lots of middle distance races this year at the tender age of 18. Ethiopia has 34 more athletes, several of whom are expected to win gold for one of Africa’s most popular sporting countries. Unfortunately two time Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie did not qualify. Despite this, the Ethiopians (along with the Kenyans) are expected to lead the medal count. All of Ethiopia’s athletes are competing in the long and middle distance running events.
Equatorial Guinea has never won an Olympic medal, but gained notoriety during the Sydney Olympics (2000) with swimmer Eric (The Eel) Moussamboui. Eric had only been swimming for eight months and had trained in a 20 m pool, came last in his Olympic debut (but did break his personal best time). He was much loved by fans and competitor alike. He is now training the country’s Olympic swimming hopefuls. Unfortunately Equatorial Guinea’s women’s soccer team was disqualified during the run up to qualify for the Olympics, for allegedly playing two men on the team.
Eritrea will send 11 track and field athletes to the London Olympics. Their biggest medal hope is long distance runner Zersenay Tadese who won the country’s first Olympic medal in Athens (2004). His best distance is the half marathon but he will compete in the 10,000 m in London. Eritrean cyclist Daniel Teklehaymanot will be the first to compete for his country at Olympic level.
Gabon will be represented for the first time in their Olympic history by their men’s football team. The country is also sending two boxers, one judoka and one Taekwondo contestant, as well as a couple of track and field athletes to London. Sprinter Ruddy Zang Milama will be the flag bearer on opening day.
The Gambia will send Suwaibou Sanneh, a 100 m sprinter to the Olympics for the second time, he failed to make it through to the second round in Beijing (2008).
Ghana has 4 boxers and 3 athletes (2 sprinters and a long jumper called Ignatius Gaisah who is a medal contender, although has failed to jump his best this year. The boxers (the Black Bombers) are hoping to continue their success, kick started by Cuban coach, Roberto Ibanez Chavez, in 2008, who managed to turn boxing around for Ghana.
Kenya is one of Africa’s most successful sporting nations in the world and their Olympic squad is made of almost 80 members including more than 30 track and field athletes. They’ve also got swimmers, a rower, boxers and a Taekwondo competitor. Kenya is expected to win several medals especially in the long distance running races. The marathon should yield several medals, both Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany swept the London marathon in April, so the athletes are well prepped. Other athletes to watch out for are: Robert Cheruiyot (long distance/marathon); Pamela Jelimo a young female 800m runner who has won almost every one of her races this summer; Ezekiel Kembo, Brimin Kipruto and Abel Kiprop Mutai, who all specialize in the steeplechase; Edwin Cheruiyot Soi in the 5,000m, David Rudisha and Wilfred Bungei who run the men’s 800m. Siblings Linet and Moses Masai are both aiming for gold medals in the middle distances. There are plenty more athletes with a good chance in London, it’s an exciting squad to watch. In the run up to the London Olympics, there have been lots of interesting stories about why Kenya produces so many excellent runners, check out: Born to Run, Why are Kenyans the Fastest Runners? and East African Runners.
Libya has a lone runner competing in the London Olympics, Mohamed Khawaja, who will run the 400 m. He is currently the African champion and will proudly hoist Libya’s new flag at the opening ceremony. Four other athletes will join Khawaja in London. Mohammed al Rabti a 33 year-old rower, should have been participating in the Olympics but he lost his left arm while fighting Ghadaffi’s forces. Libya obviously has much more potential than a handful of Olympic candidate, but athletics was ignored by the previous Ghadaffi regime as “too elitist”. Libya has never won a medal in any Olympics. Their biggest hope would have been taekwondo Olympian (2004, 2008) Ezzideen Tlish. But Tlish was killed while aiding injured rebel soldiers during the uprising in August 2011. On July 16, 2012 the president of the Libyan Olympic Committee was kidnapped by gunmen but released a week later.
Madagascar has a couple of athletes going to London, Joseph Berlioz Randriamihaja is a two-time Olympic 110m hurdler. The country will also be represented by a wrestler, judoko and boxing contestant. There are also 2 female swimmers competing in the 200m breatsroke and 100m freestyle events.
Malawi will be represented by 2 swimmers and 2 athletes in London. The swimmers are Charlton Nyirenda and Joyce Tafatatha who were enjoying their first swim in a heated 50 m pool at the University of Gloucestershire a few weeks ahead of the games. There is no indoor pool in Malawi. The two runners that will represent malawi are Mike Tebulo and Ambwene Simkonda.
Mali has a good basketball team that made it to Beijing in 2008, but was eliminated during qualifying in June 2012. They had to play Canada without most of their best players because of visa issues. This leaves the Mali team with just one judoka competing, and taekwondo star Daba Modibo Keita. This is Keita’s second Olympics. He was one of the first African athletes to win a Taekwondo world championship in 2006, after making the transition from a soccer player.
Mauritius will be represented by 8 athletes in as many events, varying from cycling to beach volleyball. Two boxers have qualified for London’s Olympics, and they will hope to bring the glory that Bruno Julie managed to attain in Beijing 2008, when he came the first person to ever medal for the country at the Olympic games.
Morocco has an extensive squad going to Beijing of some 50 athletes, many of them in track and field, but also in men’s soccer. Morocco’s medal hopes lie with their long-distance and marathon runners as well as Amine Laalou who runs the 800m. Marathon runner Jaouad Gharib will be chasing the Kenyans in his bid to improve upon his silver medal from Beijing 2008.
Mozambique has 3 athletes going to London, one judoka, one boxer and one track athlete. This will be the first Olympics in 24 years that the the legendary 800m runner Maria Mutola will not compete in! The Mozambique women’s basketball team just did not make it to qualify for London 2102.
The 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 MbackÃ© 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 OlivÃ©r 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 RÃ©bÃ©cca (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.