Rwanda has the largest proportion of women in parliament in the world...........retweet
Stars of Track and Field
With just 5 days to go the Olympics are approaching faster than Usain Bolt in a bit of a hurry.
The image of Africa at the Olympics is that of the determined long distance runner but our blogger Meryl looks beyond the running track to see how the continent will feature in the greatest sporting show on earth...
Here’s a fun game; try quizzing your friends; ‘What events are African countries entering in the Olympics?’
Answers are somewhat unanimous; Running far. Running fast. That one where you jump and run over stuff. Dunno.
With over 45 African nations entering runners into the Olympics, the assumption is that citizens in the global south spent gym classes running endless laps whilst we stood in the freezing cold playing the myriad of netball, football, hockey in P.E. Or only we got access to an endless variety of after-school activities; fencing, Ju-Jitsu, or the summer your parents thought canoeing was the thing you’d thank them for later in life. There’s a total of 204 countries competing in London 2012, admitting over 10,000 athletes across 300 events, it’s hardly realistic to presume that African nations only enter the 100m sprint.
Let’s limber up with something easy.
Running isn’t the one sport Kenya does well.
The wildlife nation is not only sending a slew of runners, but is throwing in some rowers and a female weightlifter for good measure too.
Not bad, not bad. Who else?
Actually, picking up on the martial arts theme, there’s actuallyhave a pretty darn healthy appearance. The DRC, CAE, Burkino Faso, Mali and Gabon are all entering athletes, to name literally a few.
Now let’s get crazy.
Ghana’s sending the infamous Cuban-trained ‘Black Bomber’ boxers, Cameroon entered a table tennis player and a solidfemale football team, and that’s not forgetting the incredibly popular Angolan female basketball team.
So take a deep breath and reel off the random;
Angola’s also got a female judo champion, a canoeist and a handball competitor, there’s a Ugandan badminton hopeful, an archer from Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal’s 16-strong squad includes fencing, wrestling and yet more martial arts. Sport’s-mad South Africa’s got a decent BMX crew bringing a little bit of cool to London 2012- oh, and a diver too.
Across countries like Zimbabwe, and Namibia, these athletes enjoy one heck of a celebrity status; medalist Kirsty Coventry won impressive fame in Athens and Beijing, sparking a wave of babies named ‘Coventry’, and even ‘Goldmedal’.
The Olympics is one of world’s most peaceful events, bringing communities together in a way like no other. It’s a precious moment where we root passionately for our homeland and the athletic prowess from each corner of the globe.
Those oft-forgotten competitors can stand proudly in front of the watching world, with their flag waving behind them as they lap around the stadium. As a global community we should be proud of the cultural and sporting melting pot that is London 2012- and this year, the African continent is bringing a serious amount of game.
So basically, running is not Africa’s business. Sport is. There’s a lot of pressure for these athletes to bring home the gold in London 2012, and put their nation firmly on the sporting map. I know who I'll be watching...
Africa is a continent. Not a country. It has over 50 nations, speaking around 2000 languages, and the most innovative thinking in art, sport, food, culture and industry is pouring out of it, ready to make itself known to the world. I think it’s time we talk about that.
What do you think? Comment below.