The Athletics event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games kicks off on Friday, August 12, with the best athletes in the world set to compete for Olympic glory.

While everyone expects the Usain Bolt vs Justin Gatlin rivalry to be the stiffest at the Games, there will be plenty of competition from other top athletes and African stars won’t be be left out.

On that note, we bring you a countdown of our Top 12 African athletes to watch out for at the ongoing Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.


What better way to begin our countdown than with one of the best junior athletes in the world, Baboloki Thebe who’s currently ranked No. 5 on the IAAF Top List going into the Olympic Games.

The Botswana athlete has had an outstanding season thus far, which can also be termed a breakout year, setting some of the fastest times in the world in his trademark event, the 400m.

Baboloki Thebe has set some of the fastest times in the world in 2016

Thebe started his 2016 outdoor season on a spectacular note, setting a Personal Best (PB) of 44.22s at his country’s National Stadium in Gaborone, back in May which stands as the African Junior Record (AJR).

With this time, he went into the African Championships in Durban as one of the favourites for the GOLD medal and he did not disappoint, dethroning defending champion and more experienced teammate, Isaac Makwala with a fast 44.69s.

(L-R) Karabo Sibanda, Baboloki Thebe and Chidi Okezie set to collect their medals.
Baboloki Thebe (Middle) getting set to collect his GOLD medal at the African Championships.

At the World Junior Championships in Poland, the 19-year old was on course to win his first world title, setting the fastest time of 44.26s in the semis. However, he was disqualified for a lane infringement and therefore could not compete in the final.

But this didn’t stop his aspirations at the competition, helping his teammates to a 2nd place finish in the 4x400m relay, where they raced to an AJR of 3:02.81.

Photo Credit: Making of Champions / PaV Media Ltd
Botswana’s 4x400m Silver medal winning team at the World Junior Championships in Poland. Photo Credit: Making of Champions / PaV Media Ltd

Though the African Champion may not be favourite for a medal in Rio, he may be in contention for a final berth going by the fast times he’s been churning out this year.

And like the saying goes: “When it comes to the final, anything can happen”. So who says we cannot see a Botswana flag been raised high once again, just as we did in London 2012, where Nijel Amos won a surprise Silver medal in the men’s 800m.

Funmi Fameso is a Junior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She is a 2012 Graduate of Lagos State University, where she obtained a BSc in Microbiology. She worked as a Health Centre Laboratory Assistant during her NYSC year and since then she has worked as a Junior Sports Writer for her church’s youth magazine, Kingsword Youth Club Magazine. It was watching the Sydney 2000 Olympics that ignited her passion of sports, most especially Athletics. Sports means three things to her: Passion, Hard Work and Dedication!



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