Athlete of the Year: Eight Africans in the race for the titles

Eight (8) Africans including 5 women and 3 men registered on the list of 10 nominees for the Male World Athlete of the Year and the Female World Athlete of the Year awards who were selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of World Athletics.

The nominations reflect the remarkable range of exceptional performances that the sport has witnessed this year, despite the challenges that the global Covid-19 pandemic presented.

WOMEN: Letesenbet Gidey, Ethiopia, set a world record of 14:06.62 over 5000m, was second in the Monaco Diamond League over 5000m;

Ababel Yeshaneh, Ethiopia, broke the world record in the half marathon with 1:04:31, finished fifth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships 

Peres Jepchirchir, Kenya, won the world half marathon title, twice broke the world half marathon record for a women-only race (1:05:34 and 1:05:16)

 Faith Kipyegon, Kenya, undefeated in five races over all distances, ran world-leading performances over 800m (1:57.68) and 1000m (2:29.15)

Hellen Obiri, Kenya, undefeated in three races over 3000m and 5000m, ran a world-leading 8:22.54 over 3000m

MEN: Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda, broke world records at 5000m (12:35.36), 10,000m (26:11.00) and 5km on the roads (12:51), was fourth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships on his debut over the distance

Jacob Kiplimo, Uganda, won world half marathon title in a championship record of 58:49, ran a world-leading 7:26.64 over 3000m, the fastest time in the world since 2007

Timothy Cheruiyot, Kenya, ran world-leading 3:28.45 over 1500m, undefeated in three 1500m races

CAA CONTINENTAL TOUR 2020: Noélie Yarigo shines in Yaoundé

The 4th edition of the GRAND PRIX CAA de Yaoundé took place on Saturday, October 17, 2020 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium. About ten countries took part in this competition organized the day after the easing of barrier measures related to COVID 19.

Noelie Yarigo BeninBeninese Noëlie Yarigo confirmed her good form at the time, easily dominating the double Lap in 2'10'19. Congolese Natacha Ngoye Akamabi flew over the sprint, winning the 100m in 11’86 and the 200m in 23’98.

In the men, Cameroonian Raphael Nguoguele (10''67 in 100m and 21''44 in 200m) and Nigerian Emmanuel Arowolo (10''69 in 100m and 21''39 in 200m) were the main animators of the sprint.

World Athletics Half Marathon Championships: Africa wins the jackpot

The Africans flew over the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships which took place on Saturday, October 17, 2020 in Gdynia (Poland).

We were expecting Joshua Cheptegei but it was another Ugandan, Jacob Kiplimo, who took the victory in 58'49 '', a new national record. The 19-year-old defeated Kenyan Kandie Kibiwott (58:54) who is the holder of the best world performance of the year and Ethiopian Amedework Walelegn (59:08). For his first foray into the discipline, Cheptegei comes in fourth position in 59'21 ''. For the first time in the 28-year history of this event, a Ugandan athlete was sacred.

Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir improved her own world record in an all-female race in 1h 05'16 '' ahead of Kenyan-born German Melat Kejeta, (1h 05'18 '') and Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw (1h 05'19 ").

In an arena where endurance is king, speed has also proven to be a valuable commodity. Ultimately, Peres Jepchirchir needed both to reign supreme in the women's race.

 Peres Jepchirchir

Jepchirchir breaks women-only world record at World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020

In an arena where endurance is king, speed also proved a precious commodity. In the end, Peres Jepchirchir needed both to reign supreme in the women’s race at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Gdynia 2020 on Saturday (17), powering to gold in 1:05:16, a world record* in a women-only race.

She led home Germany's Melat Yisak Kejeta, who smashed the European women-only record to take silver in 1:05:18, with Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw a close third in 1:05:19.

Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey in history

Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei (24 years old) and Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey (22 years old) made athletic history by seizing the world records in the men's 10,000m and the women's 5,000m respectively in Valencia ( Spain) on Wednesday October 7, 2020.

10,000m world champion Joshua Cheptegei is living an exceptional 2020. After seizing the world record in the 5,000m on August 14 in Monaco in 12'35''36, the Ugandan once again erased the Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele from the shelves by stealing the 10,000m from him, brought to the incredible time of 26'11''00. Bekele had managed 26'17''53 in 2005 in Brussels.

Cheptegei has confirmed his status as the best long-distance runner of the moment, he who simply aspires to be the best of all time.

“I met everyone's expectations, and I made my dream come true,” slipped the Ugandan shortly after his feat. We're here to write history, and show that athletics is always exciting. You had to give everything. The current situation is difficult for everyone, but these kinds of feats can bring joy to people. "

Previously, the Ethiopian Letensebet Gidey had distinguished herself in a very good way by passing from life to death the world record of the 5,000 m of her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, established in 2008 in 14'11''15, with a stopwatch staggering 14'06''62.

The Ethiopian vice-champion of the world in the 10,000m had announced in recent days that she was going to do it, and she did!

The performances of these two new legends prove that the future of athletics is in Africa.

"Kip Keino Classic": Kenyans shine at home

“Kip Keino Classic”, the final stage of the Continental Tour, was flown over by Kenyan world champions Hellen Obiri and Timothy Cheruiyot who won in their favorite discipline (5,000 and 1,500 m) in modest times. Thus Timothy Cheruiyot, dominated the 1500m in 3'34 "31 and the two-time world champion of the 5000m Helen Obiri did the same over 5000m in 15'6" 36.

It is an almost full Kenyan cardboard which we saw in the middle distance with the successes of Béatrice Cheptel (9'29 "05 over 3000 m steeplechase), Ferguson Rotich (1'44" 78 over 800 m), Abraham Kibiwott (8'17 "60 over 3000 m steeplechase) or Paul Tanui (28'6" 90 over 10,000 m). The victory of the Ethiopian Lemlem Hailu over 1,500m in 4'6 ”43 is one of the rare exceptions of the day.

Unlike middle distance, altitude has beneficial effects on sprint events. South African Sinesopho Dambile took the opportunity to win the 200m in 20''44 (+1.2 m / s) ahead of Ivorian Arthur Cissé (20''53).

Nairobi welcomes "Kip Keino Classic"

Nairobi is preparing to host the first World Athletics Continental Tour Meeting on African soil.

“This is an event that is really important, especially for Africa,” says Athletics Kenya President Jackson Tuwei. “It is going to open our sports in the country and most likely in Africa, because since Covid-19, there has not been any major championship in Africa.”

The  meet – named the Kip Keino Classic after distance legend Kipchoge Keino – was initially planned for May but was moved twice to its current date of 3 October.

Nairobi was to host the World Athletics U20 Championships this year but the event was rescheduled because of the corona virus pandemic.  Now, the Continental Tour is giving Athletics Kenya another chance to put on a great show this year.

“We want to organise it bearing in mind that the success of the Continental Tour in Nairobi will also resonate on how Africa can organise events,” says Tuwei.

“It will give us an opportunity to ensure that other events can spring up all over Africa, so that we are also able to have our own series that can help and build athletics on our continent.”

Nairobi was to host the World Athletics U20 Championships this year but the event was rescheduled because of the corona virus pandemic.  Now, the Continental Tour is giving Athletics Kenya another chance to put on a great show this year.

“We want to organise it bearing in mind that the success of the Continental Tour in Nairobi will also resonate on how Africa can organise events,” says Tuwei.

“It will give us an opportunity to ensure that other events can spring up all over Africa, so that we are also able to have our own series that can help and build athletics on our continent.”

There are five core events in the gold meeting series this season – the200m, 3000m steeplechase, triple jump, discus throw and hammer throw for both men and women. The Nairobi meet will also include javelin throw, the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m.The organisers have also included some national events to give local athletes the chance to compete in a season ripped to shreds by the corona virus pandemic.

The meeting will take place at the Nyayo National Stadium, which is newly refurbished to meet the standards of World Athletics competitions.

There will be fewer athletes than initially expected but considering the circumstances, meet director Barnaba Korir is pleased with those who have shown interest in it so far.

After a mostly dormant year in athletics in AfricaTuwei is confident that everything is in place for a brilliant event in October.

“We feel that this is going to open this sport on the continent and we hope that things will work out in such a manner that the athletes get a chance to start competing again within the continent and outside.

“We are ready and we are prepared,” he says. “We want to assure all the athletes who will be coming to take part in the first continental tour in Africa that they will enjoy themselves and they will have a very good competition.”

Helen NGOH for CAA

Realism, flexibility, efficiency and consideration, fundamental aspects of the CAA development plan

The situation of athletics in these times of pandemic, the decisions of the last CAA Council, the African Athletics Development centers (AADC), the second development plan, the continental circuit of competitions, the African cross-country championships and the senior African championships were the highlights of the video-conference press conference on Monday, September 21, 2020, chaired by the CAA Director General, Lamine FATY and the technical Director, Aziz Daouda.

Coming back to the CAA council meeting on September 9, FATY said he was "satisfied" with this meeting after the meeting on May 16 with 15 members present and 05 absent with apologies. ‘’ The council has notably maintained the programming of our two major championships scheduled in 2020 for next year. The African cross country championship will take place at the end of February / mid-March 2021 in Lomé, Togo while the senior athletics championships will take place in Algiers in June 2021 '' added the CAA CEO, stressing that '' the precise dates will be decided later with the organizing federations''.
Mr. FATY reported on the continuation of the CAA African meetings circuit program with seven (07) stages even if those of Nigeria and South Africa are not yet confirmed. `` The CAA will ensure that this circuit takes place with its seven stages just like the meeting in Gaborone in Botswana in April 2021, '' he said, wishing for an improvement of the situation in relation to the covid-19 pandemic and a gradual resumption of regional and national championships.
`` Despite the confinement situation and inadequate preparation, we were pleasantly surprised by the performances of our athletes during the meetings in Monaco and Stockholm and we hope that they will do even better in the competitions to come ' 'said FATY.

For his part, the Technical Director of the CAA, Mr. Daouda indicated that “during this period of confinement, the confederation was very active by organizing about thirty sessions with more than 50 participants for each. He cited as example the seminar on women's athletics which brought together more than 65 women.

Mr. Daouda also returned to the CAA strategy based on development plans. '' In Abidjan during our congress, all the members declared themselves satisfied with our first ten-year plan which expired in 2017, '' he said, stressing that the CAA competitions experienced a clear progress in terms of enthusiasm and the number of participants. `` In the past we would organize championships with three or four countries, but we recorded at the last All Africa Games in Rabat the presence of 52 countries, while the numbers have also increased considerably '' noted the Technical Director who recognizes the difficulty of organizing cross-country championships because "it is a discipline that is not practiced in all African countries".

'' To encourage mass participation, CAA has introduced the U18 category for the African Cross Country Championships in Lomé where more than 300 participants of this age will be on the starting block '' he said by underlining the will of the confederation to popularize this discipline considered as "an entry to athletics".

Specifics of the field

Mr. Daouda will also say that the CAA strategy takes into account the specificities of our continent and does its best to make its vision heard for the benefit of our athletes who are the only ones to be present in competitions around the world at up to 30% and are also among the world's best results.
He detailed that the current development plan of the confederation has been split into two periods of five years each which will soon be adopted by the council, stressing that `` this plan is based on four fundamental aspects in our opinion '': realism, flexibility, efficiency and consideration.

Explaining these four key words, he will say that the CAA adapts to the reality on the ground of the national federations. The brand image of our discipline, which unfortunately does not make all of its athletes live on it except for a few great champions, is everyone's mission by the media and television. “We as a confederation must work together with world athletics to safeguard and keep all middle distance events on the program of meetings. The 5,000m and 10,000m races are "African" events and with the relays, they are more spectacular than many others.

The Technical Director noted with satisfaction the good job being done at the level of African preparation and training centers. As proof, he raised the performances of their athletes in international competitions.

Finally the CAA CEO welcomed this press conference and thanked the participants while regretting that many journalists were unable to access the platform due to technical difficulties. ‘’We will repeat this experience very soon," he concluded.

The communications officer Mr. Mohamed Zemmour took an active part in this conference with other African journalists including Mr. Oumar Ba, media manager of the CAA and Ms. Alice Annibali in charge of public relations at the World Athletics communication department. Mr. Zemmour assured that "the preparations for the African Championships in 2021 in Algiers are going well, especially with the renovation of the annex stadium which will be furnished with a new track".

Mohamed Zemmour (FAA) for the CAA.

TANZANIE: Mbaraka James in the footsteps of Filbert Bayi

Lining up against one of the country’s most versatile runners didn’t deter the unheralded Mbaraka James on his way to winning the men’s 1500m at the Tanzanian Championships, which drew to a close on Sunday (13) after two days of action at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Jointly organised by National Sports Council (NSC), the Tanzanian Olympic Committee (TOC) and Athletics Tanzania (AT), the Tanzanian Championships took place for the first time in five years and brought together more than 200 athletes from 28 regions of the country.

James, representing the Tanga Region, won the 1500m in 3:47.12, beating Gabriel Geay – who has represented Tanzania at global and area championships – and Epimak Boniface. He started some distance behind Geay and Boniface, but gradually made up the distance on the pair. On the final lap, he overtook the duo to emerge the winner.

“It’s a National Championships, so I expected it to be a tough race,” said the 19-year-old. “My coach told me to train hard and follow his instructions, so I did exactly that and won. In Tanga, few people are involved in athletics, but with my achievement at this National Championships, many youngsters will follow into my footsteps.”

Former world record-holder Filbert Bayi, whose best of 3:32.2 still stands as the national record, is one of James’ idols.

“I can see myself becoming a top athlete,” he said. “My performance here has motivated me to work extra hard and reach the levels of my idol, Filbert Bayi.”

Angelina Tsele and Grace Charles, winners of the women’s 5000m and 1500m respectively, appreciated the opportunity to compete at a national championships. “Racing on this track against top athletes from other regions was not that easy, but I am happy that I have performed well,” said Tsele.

“Thanks to the full involvement of the TOC, the championships were very competitive,” added Charles. “I’m looking forward to representing the country at future international events.”

Athletics Tanzania’s acting secretary general Ombeni Zavalla and Vice PresidentKallaghe hailed the support from the government and promised that next year they will come back even stronger.

“After a five-year absence, this year we are back,” said Zavalla. “We really appreciate the support we received from the government and TOC to successfully host this event. I promise that next year we will host a championship even more successful than this year.”

The two-day event was officially opened by Ally Possi, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, Arts, Culture and Sports.

“We will continue working with Athletics Tanzania and all stakeholders to help develop the sport,” he said. “We are committed to developing this sector as we know that, if well managed, it can be a source of income to many families.”

Coast Region emerged the overall winner of the championships, earning 12 medals (five gold, six silver and one bronze).

Robert Kalyahe, Secretary General of athletics in the Coast Region, attributed the success of his team to the support they receive from stakeholders, which includes the Filbert Bayi Foundation (FBF).

“This is a great achievement to our region,” said Kalyahe, “but this has come due to the hard work of our athletes, coaches, leaders of our association and the support we get from the Filbert Bayi Foundation.”

Joseph Mchekadona for World Athletics

CAA COUNCIL MEETING: Major competitions, African Athletic Tour in 2021; 2021-2025 strategic plan were discussed

 The CAA Council meeting held yesterday by video conference was marked by decisions concerning the holding in 2021 of major competitions (African Cross Country Championship, Senior African Championships and African Athletic Tour) which were initially planned for 2020 but postponed because of the COVID 19 pandemic. Togo and Algeria will therefore host these two events. The CAA and the authorities of these two countries are in discussions to set the final dates for the competitions.

The Confederation of African Athletics has also confirmed that the 2021 edition of the Continental Circuit of one-day meetings will take place in the following countries: (Ethiopia), (Congo), (Djibouti), (Nigeria), (Kenya), (South Africa) and (Cameroon). The host cities will be communicated in the next weeks.

As a reminder, the 2020 calendar was set as follows: Pretoria (March), Addis Ababa (May 31), Djibouti (April 3), Kaduna (April), Nairobi (May 2), Brazzaville (May), Yaoundé (May 23)

The Council also discussed the African athletics development strategy through the 2021-2025 plan.