The track and field event in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was graced by amazing athletes across the world, but more importantly, there was participation of African student-athletes and alumni across these events. Most of these athletes were taking part in their first Olympic Games but that did not stop them from producing outstanding results and even winning medals at the games.
The Ghanaian sprinter made his debut at the Olympics in Heat 7 of the men’s 100m event. He came fourth after clocking a time of 10.13. He was also a part of the Ghanaian 4x100m relay team. They made it to the men’s 4x100m relay final but unfortunately couldn’t get any medal.
Sarfo Ansah and Emmanuel Yeboah 4×100 Relay
Sarfo was a member of the Ghanian quartet that raced in the men’s 4x100m heat and finals. He was in Ethiopia, and Egypt for FASU games and Monaco for FISU games. Emmanuel was in the 2017 Taipei Universiade games and featured in the finals of 100m
Joseph Amoah 200m & 4x100m
Joseph finished 4th in the men’s 200m in the time of 20.27 and was part of the 4x100m that raced in the finals.
The quartet of Joseph Paul Amoah, Benjamin Azamati, Sean Safo-Antwi and Emmanuel Yeboah finished 5th in Heat 2 with a new national record time of 38.08s to book a place in the finals which will take place on Friday, August 6, 2021.
Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala
It is not commonplace to find a Kenyan in a 100m event but Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala broke that stereotype by setting a national record of 10.01s in the men’s 100m at an athletics meet at Yabatech Sports Complex, in Lagos, Nigeria.
At the Olympics, He qualified for the men’s 100M semis after running 10.01 seconds in his heat. Despite running the eighth fastest time going into the finals (10.00), he was unable to participate in the Men’s 100m final. This is just a start for the Kenyan, hopefully, we will see him in the Paris game in 2024.
The sprinter from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Enoch Adegoke Adegoke qualified for the Men’s 100 m finals after finishing 2nd in heat 2 of the 100m semis clocking an identical 10.00s with Trayvon Bromell which required the utilization of the photo finish rule to decide who progresses to the final. Adegoke became Nigeria’s first 100m male Olympic finalist since 1996, 25 years after Davidson Ezinwa in Atlanta 96.
Sadly, a hamstring injury during the Men’s 100 m final prevented Adegoke from completing what many would describe as a fantastic Olympic experience.
Grace Nzubechi Nwokocha won the 100m at the National Sports Festival in Benin after clocking a time of 11.42s. Nwokocha went on to qualify for the Olympics alongside other female delegates representing Nigeria in athletics
Nwokocha clocked 11.00s (personal best) in the Olympics Women’s 100 m, finishing third behind Alja Del Ponte and Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce. Her time made her qualify for the semis of the Women 100m race and the 5th fastest Nigerian woman in history. Unfortunately, Grace Nwokocha finished 5th in heat 3 of the women’s 100m semis clocking a time of 11.07s, thereby ending her participation in the 100m event.
In the Women’s 200 m event, she clocked a personal best of 22.47s, cutting down more than three-tenths from her previous record of 22.79s. Once again, she could not progress into the finals as she came fourth in heat 3 of the women’s 200m semis with a time of 22.47s.
Nwokocha also participated in the Women’s 4x100m relay alongside Ese Brume, Tobiloba Amusan, and Patience George. They finished sixth and ran a joint time of 43.25s.
Nwokocha has shown remarkable improvement in each tournament and there is no telling the next record she would be breaking.
South Africa represented the largest number of African student participation including some notable alumni.
Tlotliso Leotlela – Sprint (100m & 4x100m)
The University of Pretoria Information Science student had his second Olympics appearance in Tokyo. Tlotliso won heat 4 of the men’s 100 m with a blistering run of 10.04s. Despite not qualifying for the men’s 100m final, he ran the top 10 fastest time (10.03) in the men’s 100 m semi-finals. He was also part of the South African team for the 4x100m relay but the South African team couldn’t qualify from their heat.
Zakithi ran in the Men’s 400m and 4x400m relay at the games. He ran a time of 45.74 to finish 5th in the Heat 2 of the qualifying round. He was also part of the South African quartet that finished 7th the in the 4×400 relays. Zakithi is a student at the North West university in Potchefstroom.
The 23 year-old Javelin thrower from the North West university in Potchefstroom finished 13th in the qualification round in group B. she threw 57.69m and did not progress to the final.
The University of Pretoria student finished 20th in the men’s 20km walk in the time of 1:24:33
Leni raced in the women’s 400m at the Tokyo games where she ran a time of 52.48 to finish 6th in heat 3. A student of the Bugema University in Uganda, Leni represented Uganda at the 2019 Universiade in Napoli, Italy in 2019
Halima Nakayi was the world champion in 800m in 2019. She represented Uganda at the Summer Universiade in 2015 in Gwanju Korea. She participated in the Women’s 800m event at the Tokyo Olympics. She couldn’t progress beyond the semi-final as she finished with a time of 2:04.44 placing her in 8th position amongst other participating athletes in heat 1.
Zango the triple jump and long jumper from Burkina Faso. Zango won Silver at Zhenshen Universiade in 2015 , he also won Gold at a FASU game in 2016. Zango won Bronze at the Tokyo Olympic men’s triple jump final.
The Namibian teenager got lips buzzing at the Olympics after winning Namibia’s first Olympic medal since 1996. Christine ran a personal best of 21.81s to win silver at the Women’s 200m final.
In 2015, Akani Simbine was crowned the World’s Fastest student, he equaled the South African 100m record and dipped below 10 seconds for the first time. He clocked a time of 9.97 at the World Student Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
The South African speedster would go on to become Africa’s fastest man in the 100m after recording a time of 9.84 seconds at the Gyulai Istvan Memorial Meeting in Hungary on the 6th of July, elevating him into 12th place on the World’s all-time list.
Simbine with his eye set on the gold medal started the Olympics with a victory in heat 6 of the Men’s 100m event with a time of 10.08s. He qualified for the Men’s 100 m final despite placing fourth in the semifinals with a time of 9.90s. Unfortunately, his time in the men’s 100m wasn’t enough to give him a medal. He placed fourth with a time of 9.93s.
Peruth became the first Ugandan woman to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport when she triumphed in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:01.45.
Coach Njia Benjamin
Coach Njia was the local coach for the Ugandan athletic team at Tokyo Olympics. He was an athlete for Uganda at the Universiade, FASU Games, East Africa University Games, and AUUS Games.
The Ugandan gold medalist at the 2014 FISU cross country championship also made his mark at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He won gold at the men’s 5000m event with a time of 12:58.15. In the men’s 10000m event, he won the silver medal with a time of 27:43.63