The Budapest World Athletics Championships kick off this Saturday, August 19. For ten days, the world's best athletes will challenge each other on the track and in the field. The Africans are not to be outdone.Many of them have great cards to play, great challenges to take up.Here are 5 of them.
Ferdinand Omanyala (100m, Kenya)
Kenya is one of the world's greatest track and field nations. At every international competition, Kenyans collect several medals and consistently place their country in the top 5 of the final rankings. However, this East African country has never won a medal in a 100m at a world event. Ferdinand Omanyala is hoping to put an end to this drought at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
For the past two years, the sprinter has been one of the world's fastest on the straight. He has enjoyed a string of successes at meetings, breaking the African record (9s77) and dominating the Commonwealth. But the 27-year-old has yet to make a world final. At both the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Ferdinand Omanyala failed to reach the semi-finals.In a few days' time, however, he is determined to reach the podium.Perhaps even the top step. This year, with a time of 9s84 recorded on May 13, only Britain's Zhamel Hugues (9s83) is better than him. But the adrenalin at Worlds is stronger than at meetings. The Kenyan will face stiff competition in Budapest.
Letsile Tebogo (200m, Botswana)
With Isaac Makwaala, Nigel Amos and Amantle Montsho, Botswana has had some fine representatives on the lap or double lap track in recent years. This southern African country now boasts a short sprint phenomenon. There's no doubt that Letsile Tebogo, only 20 years old, will be one of the world's greatest sprinters and he could already make his mark in the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
Twice world champion in the 100m and twice runner-up in the 200m as a junior, the Botswanan has gone from strength to strength this year.He made history on July 23 with a time of 19s50 at the Diamond League in London. He thus became the fastest African athlete in history in the 200m and in 2023, only Noah Lyles was faster than him in the half-lap (19s47). Wayde Van Niekerk (400m, South Africa)At last, the end of the tunnel for Wayde Van Niekerk. Hampered by injury after his 2016 Olympic title, incredible 400m world record (43s03) and 2017 world championship title, Wayde Van Niekerk is reborn. Last year, the South African had to leave his native South Africa to move to the USA with a new training team.
The hard work is starting to pay off. Having struggled to break 45 seconds in recent years, he has run 44 seconds 5 times since March. His 44s08 recorded on July 16 is the best 4th lap time in 2023. He was beaten by Bahamian Steven Gardiner (43s74), reigning Olympic champion, Zambian prodigy Muzala Samukonga (43s91) and Jamaican Rusheen McDonald (44s03). A return to the podium at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest would already be quite an achievement. But Van Niekerk wants the gold around his neck.
Joshua Cheptegei (5000m and 10000m, Uganda)
At both the Olympics and the World Championships in Eugene, Joshua Cheptegei was able to count on his compatriot Jacob Kiplimo to manage his 5000m and 10000m races well. For the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Kiplimo won't be there. He will have to fight alone to achieve the double, as he holds both world records over these distances.
Soufiane El Bekkali (3000m steeplechase, Morocco)
For the past two years, he has been the undisputed king of the 3000m steeplechase.Soufiane El Bekkali is simply unbeatable. In meetings and major championships alike, the Moroccan always crosses the finish line before anyone else. Olympic champion in Tokyo and world champion in Eugene, he will be trying to extend his reign in Budapest.
*This first issue covers only the men. The 2nd will be devoted to the ladies.