ASABA 2018 ROUNDUP: African Senior Athletics Championships
Yes the African senior Athletics Championships has been fraught with challenges, but the Show as they say Must go on. The things making the headlines should be sports and not the deficiencies of the hosts. Russia 2018 may have had its challenges which we didn’t hear of because the Media and the host country showed better sense and maturity. Not defending the organizing committee of any deserved criticism but i think the scathing comments about the hosting so far has not helped anyone ..not the Hosts, not the competition nor securing of sponsors for Future competitions.
Any way on to the competition proper, on 4th August 2018, Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya thrilled the Asaba crowds with her fastest run ever over the 400m in 49.96 that won her the African title on Friday.
After two convincing qualifying runs the previous day, Semenya went into the final with a clear target to dip under 50, which she did with a quick start and speedy finish at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, that improved her South African record.
She was way clear of Botswana’s Christine Botlogetswe, fourth at the Commonwealth Games, who timed second in 51.19, as Nigerian Ajayi Yinka rounded off the podium in 51.34.
“The main one was to run (PB) in 400m we have done that already, 800 is just to maintaining pace, we have done the best already running sub 1:55twice in a month, it’s not a joke,” said Semenya after winning her fourth African title.
“The legs are still fresh, for me I just have to focus on my start, maintain halfway then see what I can produce in my last 150m which I know I can produce.”
The three-time world champion will run the 800m here in Asaba but plans to run more 400m in future.
“My goals are like confusing, when you were a 800m runner you are always trying to spice , because you never know what you can produce. My goal is to run till 40, probably three more Olympics to come.”
Botswana’s retain titles
Baboloki Thebe and Nijel Amos defended their African titles in different fashion. After the silver at the Commonwealth Games, Thebe retained his title in 44.81, the performance he sought as he looks to the world championships next year in Doha. He still has the 4 x 400m relay to race in Asaba.
“I am here to defend my title, so I am happy with it. I hope I’ll be able to guide my team to another gold in the 4x 400 relay. As the defending champions, we have to defend our title and I have a long
season this year and I am ready for it,” said Thebe who finished ahead of South Africa’s Phora Thapelo(45.14) and Okzie Chidi of Nigeria(45.65).
The other Botswana at the top of the podium Amos topped the 800m almost ruined by a jumbled start. Some of the runners remained behind as the starting gun sounded off, hoping for a restart. Amos who had a head start held on for his second 800m continental crown in 1:45.20 ahead of Emmanuel Korir who had to play catch up with the rest of the field. Kenya’s Korir, who is also the sixth fastest man in the distance took silver, his first major career medal in 1:45.65 as Smaili Mostafa hang on for bronze for Morocco in 1:45.90.
Three it is for Brume!
Ese Brume made it two out of two with her second gold in five months, with her 6.83m leap for the gold in the long jump.
“I am happy to have defended my title after a low season last year.So now I hope to do even better at the Continental Cup,” the Nigerian said.
Brume’s fourth jump earned her third consecutive African title, as Marthe Koala won Burkina Faso’s first medal, a silver in 6.54m. South Africa’s Lyniqie Prinsloo took bronze, her second at the Africa championships in 6.38m.
Onyekwere Chioma led a 1-2 Nigeria finish in the discuss, with her winning throw of 58.09m. Chioma bettered her bronze from Durban 2016 to beat compatriot Okoro Chinwe in 57.37. South Africa’s Ischke Senekal got bronze in 53.82.
Algeria joy in hurdles
Abdelmalik Lahoulou was the surprise winner of the hurdles in 48.87 from a loaded field. The Algerian won his second continental title after the 2015 All African Games gold ahead of the reigning Commonwealth champion South Africa’s Cornel Fredricks(49.40), and Tunisia’s Zied Azizi(49.48). 2015 World champion Nicholas Bett did not finish the race.
Revenge for Kipruto
Conseslus Kipruto boldly added the Africa title to his World, Olympic and Commonwealth honours after producing a fine 200m finish to take home the 3000m steeplechase crown. Kipruto overcome a threat from Moroccan Souffiane Bakkali to take home the title in 8’2’’38. Little wonder the 23-year-old had the audacity to salute before crossing the finish line ahead of Bakkali. Getnet Baybl of Ethiopia took bronze.
“It was a revenge race, as the guy defeated me in Monaco. I am happy to win the African title. I am still eyeing the Continental medal, to add on to all the junior and senior titles that I am lucky to have won,” said Kipruto.
Before Kipruto’s celebrations were over for Kenya, they were back again on their feet after Winnie Chebet clinched the 1500m title.
After several close shaves, Chebet finally won her first career senior gold when she posted 4’14’’02, ahead of the Moroccan duo of Rababe Aarfi(4’14’’12) and Akkoui Malika (4’14’’17)
Another African title for Sawe
Matthew Sawe matched his PB of 2.30m to retain the high jump title he won in Durban, and Kenya’s first medal from the Asaba field. South Africa’s Chris Moleya and (2.26) and Mpho Links(2.15) took silver and bronze respectively.
South Africa won the 4 x100m relay (Men), while the Nigerian quartet led by Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor won the women’s title.