From 15 to 24 July 2022, the sporting world celebrated the 18th World Athletics Championships.
Organised in Eugene, United States of America, the event, initially scheduled for August 2021, was postponed by one year following the rescheduling of the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021 owing to the pernicious Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, Africa as usual made its presence felt by its performances, which contribute to the promotion of sport and Olympism.
After 10 days of competition, Ethiopia made a great comeback, emerging as 1st African nation and 2nd in the world behind the United States with 10 medals including 4 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze.
In the final rankings, 2 African nations, Ethiopia and Kenya (ranked 4th), featured in the top 5.
Africa’s total medal haul has remained stable overall for the last three editions (28 medals including 9 gold, in line with the results obtained in Doha 2019 (27 podiums, 9 titles) and London 2017 (28 podiums, 10 titles).
We greatly admire our athletes who defended the values of our Continent. Each of them worked hard and put in considerable effort to win a medal. Some were able to realise their dreams, others did not. Many of our athletes delivered impressive performances and demonstrated incredible ability against strong opponents.
I also congratulate and thank all the officials of National Athletics Federations and coaches whose expertise produced this outstanding result. Once again, I propose that we put in more effort and means to create a more enabling environment for athletes and coaches for a befitting participation in all competitions.
The diversity of the countries that won medals and the disciplines in which they were won shows that our sporting potential is very high.
We extend our hearty congratulations to all our valiant medallists for their commendable performances.
In Eugene, beyond figures and sports performance, Africans were in tune with Pierre de Coubertin’s trilogy of: “Excellence, Friendship, Respect.”
I am convinced that our performances are improving for two reasons: the first is our capacity to have imbibed Olympic values that guide sport throughout the world and, the second, the quality preparation given our athletes and the overall organisation of sports governance in Africa. We are asserting our personality on the international sports scene by building on the foundation of a unified vision of the future of elite sport.
We must provide African youth with appropriate structures, functional facilities and a high level of professional technical assistance for them to develop fully.
I suggest that we all place particular emphasis on training and coaching of athletes and do our utmost to develop strategies in this direction in a bid to boost our performance and continue aiming for glory while promoting the Olympic values of solidarity and fair play.
We must remember this defining moment of the Eugene 2022 World Championships as another successful milestone, which paves the way for an outstanding participation in the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Athletics, like all the other disciplines, will be a major asset for Africa to mount the highest rungs of podiums in 2024.
This is necessarily a logical sequel to our common aspirations. The 54 National Olympic Committees of Africa have an important role to play in supporting the National Federations. Only then will we be able to prepare for future events, because Budapest 2023 is tomorrow and Paris 2024 the day after!
President of ANOCA