Gina Bass taking the African Games 200m title in Rabat (© AFP/Getty Images)
Gambia’s Gina Bass upset defending champion Marie Josée Ta Lou in the 200m as athletics action at the 12th African Games concluded at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Friday (30).
The Gambian national record holder finished second to the Ivorian in the 100m where she sped to a new record of 11.13, 0.04 behind Ta Lou. However, in the 200m, Ta Lou knew she had a fight on her hands and was quick out of the blocks, dominating for the first 100 metres of the race. However, with 50 metres to go, Bass eased past the World Championships silver medallist to cross the line first in a new national record of 22.58 (1.8m/s).
She was followed by Egypt’s Basant Hemida, the bronze medallist in the 100m, who clocked a new personal best of 22.89. Ta Lou clocked 23.00 for third and eventually had to be stretchered from the track after getting injured in the course of the race.
In the men’s event, Zambia’s Sydney Siame executed a solid race to beat Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru to the men’s title, taking the victory in a time of 20.35 as the reigning NCAA champion took silver in 20.54. Beijing 2015 bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana returned a time of 20.56 in third place.
Kenya sweeps 5000m podium
There was a Kenyan sweep in the men’s 5000m, with Robert Kiprop upstaging favourite Edward Zakayo to take gold in 13:30.96. Kiprop placed second at the Kenyan championships only ten days ago where he clocked a personal best of 13:21.86.
Zakayo, the African champion, dominated for the better part of the race but later relinquished his lead and tried to bounce back in the final lap, but Kiprop gave him no room to overtake, speeding down the straight to his first ever title. Zakayo and teammate Richard Yator clocked 13:31.40 and 13:31.41 in second and third respectively.
Kenya also extended their dominance to the men’s and women’s 1500m as world U20 champion George Manangoi claimed his first continental title at senior level with a time of 3:38.27, finishing ahead of Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman (3:38.44) and Charles Simotwo (3:38.51).
Quailyne Jebiwott Kiprop was the woman to beat in the 1500m where she inspired a 1-2 for the East African nation, clocking 4:19.33 as Mary Kuria followed in 4:20.19. Ethiopian Lemlem Hailu won bronze in 4:20.60.
Yego throws 87.73m
In the men’s javelin competition, 2015 world champion Julius Yego secured his first African Games title with an 87.73m season’s best, to win by more than ten metres over teammate Alexander Kiprotich who reached 77.50m. Nigeria’s Nnamdi Chinecherem won bronze with 73.24m.
In the men’s high jump, African champion Mathew Sawe was relegated to second by South Africa’s Mpho Links who topped 2.20m. Sawe and world U20 bronze medallist Breyton Poole topped 2.15m finish second and third.
Nigerian women maintain 4x400m dominance
Team Nigeria’s quartet of Kemi Francis, Patience Okon-George, Blessing Oladoye and Favour Ofili ensured that the country’s legacy of winning the women’s 4x400m was upheld as they stormed to a season’s best of 3:30.32, the fastest time recorded by an African team this season. Nigeria has held the Games’ title in the event since the 1987. Galefele Moroko ran a superb anchor leg for Botswana to take silver ahead of Uganda, clocking 3:31.96 in the process.
Botswana’s Zibani Ngozi, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Ditiro Nzamani and Leungo Scotch retained their title with a time of 3:02.55 as South Africa (3:03.18) and Nigeria (3:03.42) placed second and third respectively.
Vanice Kerubo Nyagisera gifted Kenya a rare gold in the women’s 400m hurdles where she outran Morocco’s Lamie Lhabz (56.97) to take the victory with a lifetime best of 56.95. Nigeria’s Abasiono Akpan also clocked a personal best to take the bronze in 57.66.
The day began with the half marathon. Yalemzerf Yehualaw Densa led a podium sweep for Ethiopia in the women’s race clocking 1:10:26 ahead of Degitu Azimeraw Asires (1:10:31) and Meseret Belete Tola.
In the men’s race, it was Kenya’s Titus Ekiru who took the win in 1:01:42, while the host nation was also represented on the podium as Reda Elaaraby (1:02:44) and Hamza Sahli (1:02:45) finished second and third.
Yemi Olus for the IAAF