The Ivoirians have continued to demonstrate their tenacity in the sprints, making a statement at the ongoing All-Africa Games in Brazzaville where the country took DOUBLE GOLD in the 100m, courtesy of Marie Josee Ta Lou in the women’s event, and Ben Youssef Meïté in the men’s race.
Meïté stormed to his first All-Africa Games title with a National Record (NR) of 10.04s, shaving 0.01s off the former record he set during last month’s World Championships in Beijing, thus equaling the mark set by compatriot Hua Wilfried Koffi at the 2014 African Championships in Marrakech where he won the sprint double with NRs.
Koffi placed in 3rd in 10.23s in Brazzaville, finishing behind Nigeria’s Ogho-Oghene Egwero who took Silver with a time of 10.17s. The other Nigerians in the race, national champion Seye Ogunlewe, and Nicholas Imhoaperamhe placed 5th and 7th respectively, posting 10.45s and 10.52s.
Meïté who got to the semis in Beijing, had already shown fine form in Brazzaville as he won both the heats and semis, lowering his time from 10.21s to 10.12s, before clocking the NR in the final. What a great comeback for the Ivoirian who only returned to competition this year after taking some time off the sport, having suffered a setback due to injuries.
He won two Silver medals in the sprint double at the last edition of the Games in Maputo. Even though he’s still some way off Deji Aliu’s Championship Record (CR) of 9.95s, Meïté revealed that his next target is to do a sub-10s in the nearest future: “I want to run 9s, because we all know that an athlete cannot go far on the world stage with 10s. Everyone is running a sub-10 now so I want to do same too”, he said.
Nigeria’s Egwero was impressive too, winning his heat in 10.25s, and then replicating same in the semis where he led with a Season’s Best (SB) 10.06s, making it the fastest time overall in the semis. Despite not clocking a swift enough time as desired, the Nigerian declared that he was happy to win his first individual silverware at Continental level.
Following the withdrawal of Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare in the 100m, it was evident that Ta Lou, the reigning African champion over the 200m, was favoured to win the title, going by her impressive run in Beijing where she lowered her Personal Best (PB) to a time of 11.04s in the semis of the 100m. She then clocked a PB of 22.73s in the heats of the 200m and further improved to a time of 22.56s in the semis.
The 26-year old took her spectacular form to the All-Africa Games where she dominated the heats and semifinal, before racing to a CR of 11.02s, erasing the former mark set by Nigeria’s Mercy Nku who clocked 11.03s at the 1999 edition of the Games in Johannesburg. Kenya’s Eunice Kadogo took Silver with an NR of 11.47s, as Pon Karidjatou Traore of Burkina Faso finished in 3rd (11.49s).
Another Iviorian, Adeline Gouenon was 4th with an SB of 11.49s. Cecilia Francis was the only Nigerian woman in action in the 100m. She finished 3rd in the heats in 11.70s, before getting to 2nd position in the semis in 11.60s. Francis settled for 5th position in the final where she posted an SB of 11.53s. Ghana’s duo of Flings Owusu Agyapong (11.61s) and Beatrice Gyaman (11.76s) were 6th and 7th respectively.
Meïté, Koffi and Ta Lou will all compete in the 200m where they hope to make a statement once more.