22nd African Athletics Championships: Amusan, Brume lead Nigeria’s medal chase in Mauritius

Nigeria’s duo of Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume has been tipped for the top prize as the battles for the podium begin today at the 22nd African Athletics Championships in Mauritius.

Hurdler Amusan has been a fine form lately in major meets across the world and she will be aiming for her second consecutive continental title while Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist Brume will be searching for a fourth consecutive African title having claimed the gold in 2014, 2016, and 2018 at senior level. Overall Brume will be targeting her sixth consecutive title including her two junior titles in 2013 and 2015.

Heptathlete Kemi Francis will open Nigeria’s chase for medals when she takes to the track for the 100m hurdles in the women’s Heptathlon.

Not ranked as the favourite for the event, the 29-year-old will be hoping to become the fifth Nigerian woman to mount the podium as African champion in the event after the quartet of Bella Bell-Gam (1979 as Pentathlon), Patience Itanyi (1998), Patience Okoro (2008) and Uhunoma Osazuwa who set a new 6,153 points championship record six years ago in Durban, South Africa.

Team Nigeria will not only be seeking podium appearances as some of the home-based athletes who made the team will also be seeking qualification standards for the World Athletics Championship scheduled for Oregon, USA.

Samuel Onikeku, the technical director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) said the team will also be seeking to make the cut in the relays and book Nigeria’s ticket to Oregon.

Nigeria finished third on the medal table four years ago in Asaba with nine gold, five silver, and six bronze medals behind Kenya (11,6,2) and South Africa (9,14,8).

This is the third edition to be held in Mauritius after those of 1992 in Belle-Vue and 2006 in Bambous. Mauritius joins Egypt, as the only two countries 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 which represents one of the best participation ever recorded since the first edition of the African Athletics Championships.

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 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).

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