Africa Needs to Rethink How It Develops Its Olympic Athletes

Africa Needs to Rethink How It Develops Its Olympic Athletes
Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai, left, and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng celebrate after Chemutai won gold and Kiyeng won silver in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 4, 2021 (AP photo by Ben Stansall).

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No sooner had the 2020 Summer Olympics commenced than now-familiar tales of inadequate preparation and administrative snags involving African Olympic athletes began to trickle out of Tokyo. And by the closing ceremony and the handover to Paris for the 2024 Olympics, millions of Africans who tuned in to cheer their compatriots were glad to see the back of this summer’s Games.

Tokyo offered up its share of heartwarming moments involving African sportspeople. Peruth Chemutai became the first-ever Ugandan woman to win an Olympic medal, taking gold in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. Eliud Kipchoge spectacularly defended his marathon gold medal, and teenagers from Namibia and Tunisia won silver and gold medals respectively. But the underperformance of athletes from continental giants like Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Kenya was noticeable, with some countries posting their lowest medal tallies in years.

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