By michelle-lee : Fifty-three African countries participated in the 2012 OIympic games held in London from 27 July – 12 August. Ten African countries took home medals (two for the first time). Some athletes have become instant heroes in their home countries. Below are some of the highlights:
Kenya: David Rudisha set a new world record when he easily won the 800m. Rudisha is the first Maasai to win an Olympic medal since his father Daniel won silver in the 4×400 relay during the 1968 Mexico Olympics. The silver medal went to Botswana’s 18-year-old Nijel Amos who ran brilliantly to win his country’s first medal.
Kenyan steeplechasers proved their dominance in this grueling 3000m race. They have won gold in every Olympics since 1984. Ezikiel Kemboy won gold (a repeat of his 2004 Olympics), and fellow teammate Kiprop Mutai took bronze
In the 10,000m, Kenyan runners Sally Kipyego and Vivian Cheruiyot won silver and bronze medals respectively.
South Africa: The South Africans made the biggest waves in the pool of any African nation. Chad Le Clos won a gold (200m butterfly) and (100m Butterfly) dueling Michael Phelps. Le Clos was a sensation, making four Olympic finals in London. He pulled out of the 400m individual medley to concentrate on the 100m butterfly
Bridgitte Hartley won a bronze medal in the women’s kayak single K1 500m race. South Africa’s Men’s Lightweight 4 rowers won a gold medal
In track and field Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee inspired everyone with his gutsy performance in the semi-finals of the 400m and the final 400m relay. Caster Semenya won a silver in the Women’s 800m.
Tunisia: Swimmer Oussama Mellouli won the bronze in the 1500m freestyle final and went on to win a gold medal in the 10k open swim. He is the first Olympian to ever medal in both the pool and open water at the same Olympics. He told the Associated Press: ““I hope every Tunisian watching on TV today could share in my pride and joy. We definitely needed that.”
Uganda: Marathon: Uganda won their first gold medal in over 40 years, In a race filled with Ethiopian and Kenyan record holders, 23 year old Steven Kiprotich outran them all to win in 2 hrs, 8 minutes and 1 second. Kiprotich sped by the two Kenyan frontrunners Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang in the final 5km to become the upset winner. The two Kenyans took silver and bronze. Kenyans and Ethiopians filled the first 29 places on the 2012 world marathon list, and Kiprotich’s name hardly merited a mention in the pre-event predictions, but Kiprotich, who left school at 17 before moving to Kenya to concentrate on running, was rewarded for his sacrifice with the ultimate prize. The sixth of seven children, he moved from Uganda to train with Kenya’s former world 5,000m champion Eliud Kipchoge in Eldoret, in the Rift Valley. Only 400m hurdler John Akii-Bua in Munich 1972 has ever won an athletics gold for Uganda before, while the country’s last Olympic medal was in Atlanta 1996 when Davis Kamoga took a bronze medal in the 400m final.
After winning the marathon he said, ” When the race started I thought the Kenyans would win. I kept in touch and then I thought, “Let me move’, and I did”. “When we came to within three miles, then I started to go on strongly,” He added, “I would like to send a message to the Ugandan Athletics Federation and the Minister of Sport – consider us athletes in Uganda. We need more facilities. The problem in Uganda is that we do not have the facilities. It is that which pushed me to Kenya..
Ethiopia: Tirunesh Dibaba defended her 10,000m gold medal, but only managed bronze in the 5,000m where she was outpaced by fellow countrywoman, Meseret Defar who won gold.
Gabon got their first Olympic medal. Anthony Obame won the silver in Tae kwon do. Tae kwon do is a sport that has really allowed many African nations and athletes to compete in the Olympics, so hopefully this will be the start of more success in Rio 2016.
Final Medal Counts for Africa’s 2012 Olympic Games
- South Africa – 3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze
- Ethiopia – 3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze
- Kenya – 2 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze,
- Tunisia – 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze.
- Algeria 1 gold
- Uganda 1 gold
- Egypt 2 silver
- Botswana – 1 silver
- Gabon – 1 silver
- Morocco -1 bronze