The excitement that follows the organization of major tournaments is yet to die down following thrilling performances by African athletes in the 2023 World Athletics Championship in Budapest, Hungary staged from 19-27 August 2023.
The global athletics rendezvous in Budapest brought its fair share of thrilling action with Africa’s mercurial female athletes inking their names in the annals of the sport’s books. For decades, Ethiopia and Kenya had shot to prominence with enthralling displays in medium and long distance running, and this time, it was the women who led the charge for both nations. Female athletes won 13 of the 25 medals secured by African nations, accounting for 52 percent of the precious metals won.
Kenya ranked 5th in the world event, clinching 10 medals and for the first time, all three of the nation’s gold medals were won by women. Faith Kipyegon already regarded by many as a fantastic athlete further established her legacy as one of the greatest middle- and long-distance runners to ever grace athletic tracks. Having picked up gold in the 1500 meters, Kipyegon who has a penchant for the surreal charged her way to the 5000 meters, becoming the first woman to win gold in the 1500m and 5000m at the World Championships. With gold in the women’s 1500 meters, the 29-year-old completed three-peat having won gold in the 2017 and 2022 events.
There was more firework to come from the Kenyan delegation as 23-year-old Mary Moraa sprung to global supremacy by scooping the nation’s third gold medal in the 800 meters and capping it off with some scintillating dance steps. Beatrice Chepkoech, Beatrice Chebet, and Faith Cherotich added to the East African country’s medal tally, gleaning a silver and two bronze medals.
Ethiopia has its female athletes to thank after their sports brilliance accounted for six of the nine medals secured in Budapest. There was a clean sweep by the Ethiopian trio in the 10000 meters as 26-year-old Gudaf Tsegay stormed to gold with her compatriots Letesenbet Gidey and Ejgayehu Taye picking up silver and bronze to complete the podium. Veteran long-distance runner Amane Beriso Shankule scooped gold in the women’s marathon with her fellow citizen Gotytom Gebreslase collecting the silver medal. Morocco’s Fatima Ezzahra finished third, winning one of her country’s two medals.
Côte d'Ivoire’s delegation landed in Budapest with huge medal ambitions. While they missed their initial target, there was some consolation when the 4 X 100 meters relay team comprised of Murielle Ahoure, Jessica Gbai, Jose Marie Ta Lou, and Maboundou Kone established a new African record. The quartet’s performance of 41s90 is the 8th fastest in the history of the discipline.
The prowess of Africa’s female athletes at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary is a call for greater investments in women's sports at all levels. The African Union Sports Council (AUSC) advocates for a culture of gender equality in sports. We need to see more African female coaches, technical officials, administrators and leaders in the African sports movement. The Policy for Sustainable Development of Sports in Africa encourages all African Union Member States and Sports Confederations to develop and mainstream gender equality in their sports policy frameworks. This is in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, Africa’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on inclusive social and sustainable development; and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
The performance of the African women in the 2023 World Athletics Championship is in line with the AU Agenda 2063 aspirations of “The Africa We Want” that stresses on “An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.” Therefore, developing gender sensitive and inclusive policy frameworks and strategies; and investing in long-term athlete development programs will undoubtedly increase the number of sporting sensations the continent produces and positively impact its displays at continental and world sporting tournaments.