This week begin the 22nd African Athletics Championships after a long wait. Initially scheduled last year in Algeria, it is Mauritius (June 8 to 12) who will host this edition of the biggest continental rendezvous in athletics at the brand-new stadium of Côte d'Or. This is the third edition to be held in Mauritius after those of 1992 in Belle-Vue and 2006 in Bambous. Mauritius therefore joins Egypt, the only country to date to have organized three editions of the African Championships.
For this 22nd edition, no less than 636 athletes will participate, with 257 women and 379 men. This represents one of the best participation ever recorded since the first edition of the African Athletics Championships. No doubt that this enthusiasm is due to the sanitary context of the last two years, where a good number of athletes have been deprived of events of that magnitude.
The biggest delegation will be South Africa, with a contingent of 90 athletes, with the particularity of having more women (47) than men (43), and thus coming close to a near parity in its squad. The smallest delegation will be that of Mauritania and Burundi with each a team made up of only one athlete, namely the Mauritanian Serigne Salio Dia (100m) and the Burundian Bienvenu Wendlasida Sawadogo (400m hurdles).
A world flavor in the men's 100m
Among the most prominent athletes, we will note the presence of Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, world leader on 100m with 9.85, clocked last month during the Keino International Meet. The world junior 100m champion and recordholder, Letsile Tebogo from Botswana, will also be present. He recently bettered the world junior record of American Trayvon Bromell (9.97) with 9.96 in Gaborone on April 30. Botswana's quarter-miler Bayapo Ndori (44.88), the only African to have achieved a sub-45 second this year will be targeting a first African title after his bronze medal at Tokyo’s Olympics last year with his teammates of the 4x400m relay.
More finalists from Tokyo will be present in Mauritius this week, like Ethiopia's Mekides Abebe, fourth in the women's 3 000m steeplechase, in search of a first African title over this distance, although already gold medalist at the All-Africa Games (2019) and the African Junior Championships (2017).
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusa, fourth on 100m hurdles in Tokyo, will be there to win a second consecutive African title. Her teammate, Ese Brume, long jump bronze medalist in Tokyo, will go in search of a fourth consecutive seniors continental title, after 2014, 2016 and 2018. And in search of a sixth consecutive African title, including her two junior titles in 2013 and 2015.
Another bronze medalist in Tokyo to be present in Mauritius is Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen, who finished just ahead of Ethiopian Getnet Wale on 3 000m steeple, but who will be competing in the 5 000m at these African Championships in Mauritius. Getnet Wale will therefore be the favorite for the title on 3 000m steeple.
Winter weather conditions
It’s currently the winter season in Mauritius. The stadium, being situated in the center of the island, suffers from temperatures that oscillate between 27° and 21° Celsius. But with the proximity of an anticyclone in the region, the climate is likely to be windy and undergoes eventually a drop in temperature below 21°. However, we hope that the anticyclone will be far away before the beginning of the competition on Wednesday.
Ethiopia is the first delegation to land in Mauritius on Sunday. The athletes will be accommodated in the north of the island, at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel in Balaclava, which is 27 kilometers away from the competition site.