Kenya topples South Africa, and host Nigeria at the Asaba 2018 African Games

Despite the initial challenges of participating, including delegations being stranded at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos while waiting to be ferried to Asaba, before the competition began on Wednesday, The 2018 African Championships in Athletics ended on a high note on August 5 in Asaba, Nigeria.

True to their pre-championship boasts, Team Kenya were the overall champions of the 21st African Senior Athletics Championships, as the East Africans finished strongly on the final day; ending the championship with 11 gold, six silver and two bronze medals.

The East Africans, who hosted and won the 19th edition in 2014, beat defending champions, South Africa who led for most of the five-day event –and host, Nigeria, to the second and third positions respectively.

South Africa, who hosted and won the last edition in Durban, won a total of 30 medals made up of nine gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medals. Team Nigeria got 19 medals made up of nine gold, five silver and five bronze medals. Morocco, Ethiopia, Cote d’ivoire, Tunisia and Botswana followed in that order.

South African athlete, Caster Semenya was one of the stars on the final day, as she won gold in the women’s 800 metres, breaking an African record in the process while recording her 27th consecutive win in the women’s 800 metres since 2015. Sport24 reports that on Friday, Semenya also broke a national record held by Heide Seyerling for 18 years in the women’s 400 metres, becoming the first South African woman to finish the race in less than 50 seconds. The 27-year-old Olympian has also qualified for the 2018 IAAF Continental Cup taking place in Ostrava next month.

Kenyan Edward Zakayo celebrates with the Kenyan flag after winning the Men’s 5000m event on the final day of the African Athletics Championship at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State in midwestern Nigeria, on August 5, 2018. Photo: AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei

It was gold for Nigeria in the women’s triple jump, where Grace Anigbata finished top, just as Nigeria also captured gold in the 4x400m women race while in the women’s 400m hurdles Glory Nathaniel became the African champion after finishing in 55.53secs. NCAA 200m champion Divine Oduduru won silver for Nigeria in the event in 20.60secs. South Africa’s Ncilili Titi won gold in 20.46secs. Luxolo Adam of South Africa won bronze in 20.60secs.

Kenyan middle distance runner Elijah Manangoi said according to Punch, “We didn’t set out to win the championships but I believe the fact that we faced some tough challenges before the competition started motivated us to give our best in all the events we participated in.

For the first time in the history of the African championships, athletes also won prize money alongside their medals. the Local Organizing Committee of the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship on Sunday revealed prize money for athletes who won medals in Asaba. Gold medalists receive a cash prize of $3000 each, silver medalists get $2000 each, while bronze medalists went home with $1000 each. Over 120 medals were won at the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, tagged Asaba 2018. The next edition of the championship will take place in Algeria.