African Athletes Rock

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African female athletes from Ethiopia and Uganda made history at the recently concluded 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland. Ethiopian athlete Tirunesh Dibaba teamed up with her sisters Ijigayehu, Olympic gold medalist Meseret Defar, and Meselech Melkamu and won the first four places in the women's 5,000 meter race. The Ethiopian team won a total of nine medals. The winnings put Ethiopia to rank number 3 behind USA with a total of 25 medals and Russia with 20 in the number of total medals won.

Also an Olympic gold medalist, Meseret Defar, Tirunesh's sister Ijigayehu and Meselech Melkamu successfully completed second, third and fourth, respectively, making the women's 5,000 meter race simply an Ethiopian domination. This is the second time in the history of Ethiopian athletics history for an athlete to get double in 10,000 and 5,000 meters in an international event after Miruts Yifter made it in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Although the Ethiopians overshadowed the event by their winnings, a little known Ugandan athlete 23-year-old Dorcus Inzikuru beat all the odds and scooped a Gold medal in the 3,000 m race. Uganda sent a contingent of six athletes to the event and Inzikuru won the 3,000m race in a championship record of 9:18:24 seconds. This was Uganda's only Gold medal since the 1972 Munich Olympics where the late John Akiibua won Gold for Uganda.

On return to Uganda, road traffic on the Kampala-Entebbe highway was brought to a standstill as thousands of fans welcomed national track queen Inzikuru. The Ugandan parliament that had of recent been so busy with political issues put politics aside and dedicated Monday's session to welcoming Inzikuru. Tanzania, another country that has never won any Gold medal in the last 22 years of the International Championships surprised the world by scooping silver. Tanzanian runner Christopher Isegwe won Tanzania's silver medal finishing second behind Morocco's runaway champion Jaouad Gharib.

The list continues with the Kenyan team wining one Gold, two silver and four bronze medals. Catherine Ndereba walked away with the women's marathon Silver medal, confirming Kenya's international dominance in the track races. Kenya's only Gold was secured by Benjamin Limo who put up a powerful finish in the men's 5000m finals. Kenya's third medal was a bronze by William Yiampoyi in the men's 800 meters.

Elsewhere in Africa, Morocco retained its toughness with a Gold medal and two silver medals. Ghana, another African country struggled and won one silver and a bronze medal. Nigeria and South Africa that have always been dominant in wining medals for Africa at international events did not do well this time. These winnings should be celebrated by all Africans around the world. At a time when international media focuses mostly on bad news and ignores positive events in Africa, it is this kind of news that everyone should hear. Africa has a lot of positive events and news going on. However, Western media prefer to focus on bad news to perpetually portray Africa as a hopeless place. This is why we should be proud to see that once in a while Africa is presented in the media in the positive way that it deserves.

Otika writes for The Black Star News on African Affairs. He maybe be reached via email for interviews at
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