The Rise Of African Athletes In International Track And Field Competitions
Africa’s history in international athletics can be traced back to the early 1900s when African athletes began participating in international competitions.
●14th April 2023
The rise of Africa in athletics can be attributed to a combination of factors that include natural talent, training techniques, social and economic conditions, access to resources, and inspirational role models. One of the key factors contributing to the success of African athletes is their natural talent. Many African athletes come from rural areas where running is a way of life. They grow up running long distances to get to school, fetch water, or help their families. This early exposure to running helps to develop their physical abilities and mental toughness, making them naturally talented runners.
Africa’s history in international athletics can be traced back to the early 1900s when African athletes began participating in international competitions. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that African athletes began to make a significant impact on the world stage.
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila made history by becoming the first black African athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. Bikila went on to win another gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, cementing his place as one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time.
▪️ 1️⃣st East African of 🇪🇹 to win 🥇at the 1960 Rome Olympics. ▪️ Ran 42.195km of distance barefoot! 🤯
Throughout the 1970s, African athletes continued to make their mark on the world stage. Kenya’s Kipchoge Keino won two gold medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and set a world record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi also set a world record in the 1,500 meters at the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
In the 1980s and 1990s, African athletes continued to dominate in distance running events, particularly in marathons. Ethiopia’s Miruts Yifter won two gold medals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and Kenyan runners such as Henry Rono, Tegla Loroupe, and Paul Tergat set numerous world records.
Overall, Africa’s history in international athletics is one of success and achievement. African athletes have broken down barriers and challenged stereotypes, inspiring future generations to take up running and pursue their dreams of success in athletics.
#NeverForget: Beatrice Utondu, Faith Idehen, Mary Onyali and Christy Opara Thompson create one of the most iconic moments in sports after pipping France on the line to. win the 4×100 bronze 🥉 medal at the Barcelona 92 Olympics. First medal ever won by a Nigerian woman. pic.twitter.com/nec7OT3dDF
Over the years, African coaches and athletes have developed unique training techniques that have helped them succeed in international competitions. For example, Kenyan runners often train at high altitudes, which increases their endurance and strengthens their cardiovascular system. They also incorporate interval training, hill running, and plyometric exercises into their training regimens.
Social and economic conditions have also played a role in the rise of Africa in athletics. Athletics provides a way out of poverty for many African athletes. Running can provide economic opportunities such as prize money, sponsorships, and endorsement deals, which can help support themselves and their families. Additionally, athletics can provide social mobility, with successful athletes gaining recognition and respect within their communities.
Access to resources has also been a contributing factor. African governments and international organizations have invested in building athletic facilities and providing access to coaches and training programs. For example, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) has supported the development of athletics in Africa by organizing competitions, providing equipment, and sponsoring training programs.
Finally, inspirational role models have played a role in motivating young athletes. Successful African athletes such as Haile Gebrselassie, Kipchoge Keino, Mary Onyali and Tirunesh Dibaba have become role models for young athletes across the continent. They have inspired future generations to take up running and pursue their dreams of success in athletics.
In recent years, African athletes have continued to excel in international athletics. At the 2012 London Olympics, Kenya won 11 medals, including two gold medals in the women’s marathon and the men’s 800 meters. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana set a new world record in the women’s 10,000 meters, and Kenyan runners won six gold medals.
Most notably in 2022, Nigeria’s Tobiloba Amusan was victorious at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where she set a record, also at the World Championships in Oregon, where she set a new World Record of 12.12s in the Hurdles event, Amusan was far above her contemporaries in the past year.
She also won the Diamond League trophy for the second successive season, highlighting her rating as one of the world’s best and Africa’s undisputed number one at the moment. Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon and Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey also emerged as world champions in the 1500m and 1000m.
Overall, the rise of Africa in athletics can be attributed to a combination of factors that have created an environment in which African athletes can thrive. These factors have helped to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes in the world of sports, inspiring a new generation of African athletes to pursue their dreams.