Africa’s Olympic triumphs

2012-08-11 15:09

Continent hits its stride in London

Africa’s Olympic campaign took on a golden, silver and bronze sheen this week as the continent’s athletes hit their stride on the track.

On Thursday night, Kenyan David Rudisha did the unthinkable – he turned the world’s attention away from Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.

Just 55 minutes before Bolt took to the track for the 200m final, Rudisha had the 80 000-strong crowd in London’s Olympic Stadium eating out of his hand and brought Africa to its feet.

Rudisha (23) smashed the world record in 1:40.91 in the 800m final, taking the continent to a neat 1-2-3 on the winners’ podium.

Teenager Nijel Amos bagged Botswana’s first-ever Olympic medal, taking silver, while Rudisha’s compatriot Timothy Kitum came third for the bronze.

“One time when I was going through a magazine I came across an article saying my father (Daniel) had wanted to break the 400m world record in the 1960s but he couldn’t – and for his son to do it is an honour,” Rudisha said after his record-breaking win.

He revealed that he’d eaten a full meal before the race.

“I’m Masaai and we eat, especially meat! I had yoghurt and fruit for breakfast; and rice, soup and chicken later.” His diet clearly paid off.

In the days leading up to Rudisha’s heroics, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won the women’s marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:03.07.

Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo got silver in that race.

On Wednesday, South African kayaker Bridgitte Hartley delivered an ideal Women’s Day gift with her bronze medal in the K1 500m final. She joined SA’s other medal winners: Chad le Clos (gold), Cameron van der Burgh (gold), Sizwe Ndlovu (gold), Matthew Brittain (gold), James Thompson (gold) and John Smith (gold).

It wasn’t only the 800m men’s competitors who set the pace for Africa – Ethiopian Meseret Defar won the 5 000m race, edging countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba in the final.

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