Interesting Facts About Africa’s Sports

Did you know…

Malawi won the bronze medal in soccer in the 1987 African Games in Nairobi (Kenya).

Madagascar, Seychelles and Ethiopia boycotted the 1988 Olympics because the Games were not organized by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (or North Korea ).

Cairo (Egypt) hosted the 1999 World Men’s Handball Championship. Final standings:



3.Yugoslavia (Currently Serbia),











14.South Korea,








22.Saudi Arabia,



Ahmed Salah and Djama Robleh were the best athletes in Djibouti. Salah won the Marathon World Cup two times (1985 and 1986).

The Montreal Olympic Games were not boycotted by Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.

Cape Verde is one of the best basketball teams in Africa. This country -it is the same size as Rhode Island- won the medal bronze at the FIBA African Championship in 2007. Under the leadership of Antonio Moreira, Cape Verde also won the bronze medal at the 2006 Lusophony Games in Macau (China).

The most famous sportspeople in Rwanda are: Epiphanie Nyirabarame (marathon), Dieudonne Disi (track and field), Cyriagu Ndayikengurukiye (marathon), Claudette Mukasakindi (athletics) and Angeline Nyiransabimana (track & field).

Malawi sent 3 female athletes to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany. They competed in track and field.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire) finished in 10th place at the 1993 FIBA Under-19 World Championship for Women.

Botswana won 2 gold medals at the 2008 African Track and Field Championships in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The champions were Kabelo Kgosiemang (one of the best high jumpers in the world) and Amantle Montsho (sportswoman / 400m).

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Liberia -the second black republic in the world- is the birthplace of George Weah, one of the greatest football players in the 20th century. George was the best football player of the world-1995. Ironically, Liberia has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games.

The Kingdom of Swaziland sent 8 sports persons to the 1984 Summer Olympics in the Los Angeles (USA). They competed in four sports (athletics, boxing, swimming, weightlifting).

Abdi Bile (Somalia) won the gold medal in the 1500m at the IAAF World Track and Field Championship in 1987. Bile is one of the symbols of Africa.

Fatmata Fofanah won the gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the 2008 African Championships. Currently, she is the best female athlete in Guinea.

Mozambique -former Portuguese colony in Africa- won a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (Australia).

Niger -one of the World’s poorest countries- sent four athletes (boxers) to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

The most popular sports in Burkina Faso -former Republic of Upper Volta- are football, athletics, judo and boxing.

The 1980 Moscow Olympics were boycotted by the Kingdom of Morocco, Somalia, Mauritania, Niger, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire…

Zimbabwe -former Rhodesia- has had famous sportspeople in the past century: Nicolas Nyengerai (track & field / African champion, 1995), Helen Volk (field hockey / Olympic gold medalist, 1980), Paula Newby-Fraser (triathlon / former world champion), Brian Dzingai (athletics), Sarah English (field hockey / Olympic gold medalist, 1980), Zephaniah Ncube (athletics), Ndaba Dube (boxing), Tendai Chimussa (marathon), Evan Stewart ( diving / he was one of the best divers in the Third World ), Sonia Robertson (field hockey / Olympic gold medalist, 1980).

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Diedonne Kwizera was the best Burundian athlete in the 1980s and early 1990s. Unfortunately, he was unable to compete in the Olympics because Burundi was not a member of the International Olympic Committee ( IOC ). He studied at the University of Nebraska (United States).

Namibia sent 6 athletes to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona (Spain). They were Lucktez Swartbooi, Frankie Fredericks (track & field ), Harry Simon (boxing), Joel Lindemeier (aquatics), Frank Kayele Tuihaleni (athletic), Anja Dahl (swimming). Fredericks won two silver medals (100m, 200m).

Kaltouma Nadjima is the best sportspeople of Chad. She was born on November 16, 1976 in Bol ( Chad ).

Top performances:

2004: African Championships-2nd 400m, 3rd 200m

2002: African Championships-1st 400m ; IAAF World Cup-5th 400m ; Grand Prix Final-5th 400m

2001: IAAF World Championships-5th 400m; IAAF World Indoor Championships-4th 400m; Games of La Francophonie-1st 200m.

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by Alejandro Guevara Onofre