On Sunday, Kenya won its tenth gold medal and 23rd overall, finishing ahead of South Africa, which had one gold medal less but a superior 36 overall.
Javelin star Julius Yego threw 79.62m, a season’s best, to defeat Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman and win a historic fourth straight title.
The Kenyan, who won the world title in 2015, said the victory has given him a boost in another World Championship year, with the competition taking place in the United States in just over a month.
“The last two years have been challenging because of an injury – I contemplated retiring but now I’m confident I still have what it takes,” Yego told newsmen.
Nigeria and Algeria won five gold medals each to finish third and fourth on the table, just ahead of Ethiopia and Botswana, who each won four gold medals at the first finals, which featured a record 47 nations.
Burkina Faso won two gold medals, while six other countries took one, with Aminatou Seyni of Niger making history in the women’s 200m.
No Nigerien had ever won a medal at the championships before, and the 25-year-old, who had recently defeated American Allyson Felix in Ostrava, won the gold medal in 23.04 seconds.
“This is my first gold medal, and this is also the first gold medal for Niger at the African Athletics Championship – I’m very pleased with it and I’m very proud,” Seyni told reporters.
“Unfortunately, with the rain it wasn’t easy, but I gave it all out there. My aim this season is to reach the final at the World Championships and try my best to be on the podium.”
A championships characterised by heavy rain and wind was once again accompanied by late programming changes that made life difficult for the athletes.
“I didn’t do enough warm-up – I was scared I would pull a muscle, or anything could happen,” reacted the new African men’s 200m champion, Letsile Tebogo of Botswana, after winning in 20.26 seconds.
“It means a lot to me because it’s going to make me push even harder to get more medals for my country. The conditions were bad because I hadn’t done enough warm-up and we rushed to get into a race and it was raining but you have to do your best and make people enjoy athletics.”
It was the same feeling for Cameroonian sprinter Emmanuel Alobwede, who won silver in the 200m final.
“When I arrived at the stadium, they had changed the time of the race, but I didn’t know, so I only had 25 minutes to warm-up,” he told newsmen.
“But as I went on the track, I told to myself it’s not 25 minutes of warm-up that can prevent me to get a medal because I had travelled for 13 hours to come here.”
“This is my first big medal in an international championship, I’m very happy for it. It doesn’t matter whether gold or silver, I’m just happy I had a medal at a continental championship.”
In other news, reigning shot-put champion Chukwuebuka Enekwechi not only defended his title, but also set a new athletics championship record with a 21.20m throw, breaking his own mark from 2018.
Senegal’s first gold medal at the Championships came on the final day of competition, when Sangoné Kandji won the women’s triple jump final with a personal best jump of 13.76 meters.
“I feel very emotional, and I am very happy. It’s my first African medal at senior level,” explained Kandji.
“I was here in 2009 as a junior and I won the long jump title, so I can say Mauritius is my country because I have now won the gold medal for triple jump.”
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