The Heart of African Sports

African Sports News: The Heart of African SportsAfricaSportSite.Com covers the human interest stories – the stories behind the major stories and the stories of African’s who have overcome great odds to compete in the games enjoyed be peoples around the world.

How did the little, West African country of Togo earn a Bronze Medal in Kayaking in last years Olympic Games? The is a terrible war in Dafur, Sudan and that country has never had runners that place well in the All African Games and now several from that war torn area are among the top in the world in their events. One of them carried the American flag for the USA team in last years Olympics. What is the story there? Murus Yifter, of Etheopia, won several Olympic medals and earned the Gold in Munich, but a few days later he missed his heat in the 5000 meters, because he was in the washroom.

Rwandan Cyclist Gets Ready for 2012 Olympics

Rwandan cyclistIn early February, Rwandan Adrien Niyonshuti became the first athlete from his country to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in London after finishing fourth at the UCI Africa Continental Cross Country Mountain Bike Championship in Jonkershoek, Cape Town, South Africa.  That is 4th place in the Pro Elite category, the top division.

“Something that started out as a dream when we began to work with Adrien two years ago after seeing him at the African Continental Cycling Centre has now become a reality,” said Doug Ryder, MTN team owner.

It has been twenty years since a Rwandan has qualified to represent his country in the Olympic Games.

For any African to qualify for the Olympics is big news, but one coming from Rwanda is trumpets blaring headlines.  The small, Africa country is most noted for the civil war that many refer to as a genocide.   In fact, six of Niyonshuti’s brothers were killed in the genocide of 1994.   Sports Illustrated April 2011 edition will explore Adrien’s harrowing journey from surviving the Rwandan genocide as a 7-year-old to becoming one of the best cyclists in Africa and qualifying to take on the world’s top riders at the 2012 Olympics.

In 2009, Niyonshuti signed a professional contract with MTN Energate South Africa’s premier cycling team.  Last year, Adrien competed in the Tour of Ireland.   He won his first, major professional mountain bike on February 19th of this year at the MTN Clarens ultra-marathon. His winning time for the ultra-marathon over 113km was 5 hours 45 minutes.

Adrien is both a cycle, road racer and mountain bike racer.  There is hope that the entire Rwandan road team will compete in the Olympics.

See Adrien Niyonshuti’s Facebook page, and Team Rwanda Cycling Website.

African Hoops

Basketball in AfricaAmong African sports participation, Basketball does not rank very high, yet thirteen players from the continent are currently playing the United State’s NBA (National Basketball Association).  Most of them come from West Africa: 5 from Nigeria, 3 from Senegal, and 1 from Ghana.

The NBA’s Basketball Without Boarders program has sponsored coaches and player training programs in Africa for the past eight years.  The 2010 venue was Senegal.

Next to the NBA, Africa’s own continental championships present a excellent stage to showcase the continents best hoopsters.  At the 2010 African Championships Angola defeated Ivory Coast 82-72.

AfricaBasket is a great website to follow high caliber African basketball.

Nigerian Traditional Boxing

The Economist Nov. 28th came out with a story, A rumble in the Sahel, that introduced me to a Nigerian form of traditional boxing called Dambe. Matches last three rounds. There is no time-limit to these rounds. Instead, they end when: 1) there is no activity, 2) one of the participants or an official calls a halt, or 3) a participant’s hand, knee, or body touches the ground. Knocking the opponent down is called killing the opponent.  Have a look.

Haile Gebrselassie: Africa and the World’s Best Runner Ever

Last week, I sat comfortably on my couch and watched what I thought was the last run of the world’s best runner ever, Haile Gebrselassie.  He dropped out of the race when an injury finally had its way with him.

From the first time I saw Kip Keino run and win a mile race in the L.A. Sports Arena back in 1965, I feel in love with African runners.  I have always been partial to the Kenyans but when Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Rome Olympic Marathon barefooted, I was enthralled with the Ethiopians.

Ethiopian, Haile Gebrsellassie is the world’s best.

Haile Gebrselassie has one the prime races of his profession:
  1. two Olympic gold medals over 10,000 meters
  2. four World Championship titles for the 10,000 meters.
  3. four time champion of the Berlin Marathon
  4. three consecutive wins at the Dubai Marathon.
  5. four world titles indoors at distances from 1500 to 3000 meters.
  6. and the 2001 World Half Marathon Champion.
  7. and set 24 world records.

After the NY City Marathon, Haile announced his retirement, then quickly retracted it:

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Passionate appeals from the Ethiopian public persuaded marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie to change his mind about retiring, the athlete told reporters on Friday.
The 37-year-old, regarded as the greatest distance runner of all time, announced he was quitting earlier this month after dropping out of the New York Marathon with a knee injury only to reverse the decision a few days later.
“The reason (I came back) is that people were commenting on the way I announced it. Everyone in Ethiopia was passionate and wanted me to be back,” Gebrselassie told reporters… here to read this entire article.

In a CNN special, Haile said, “I am addicted to running, it is a drug.  I need to eat, rest, and run.”

For the other parts of this CNN show see Part 2, and Part 3 where he set the marathon world record.

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