Since we are talking about sports, we can say that the The African continent started last, but is visibly catching up on the rest of the world. While athletics – and in particular endurance competitions – has been a land of conquest for African athletes for many years, the number of sports in which African athletes are making their way continues to grow.

So the Eritrean Biniam Girmaythe first African to win a cycling classic like Ghent-Wevelgem, has overcome yet another obstacle that the athletes of this continent are in the process of overcoming for the recognition of sporting plenitude at the highest level.

In cycling, the road had been open since Qhubeka Teamthe first African professional team, born in South Africa following the success of two wheels in Ethiopia and Rwanda, to begin a long journey.

A long and painful journey, strewn with moving stories. And big firsts. Like that of Reginald Walker, gold of 100 in London 1908: he was white, born in South Africa and clearly of English origin. For the “Dark Continent” to see its golden athlete, it was not until Amsterdam 1928, with the weightlifting victory of El Sayed Nosseir.

But for the Queen of the Games, athletics, the path was more bumpy: the milestone had been crossed by Boughera El Ouafi, runner born in Algeria, winner of the 1928 marathon. A record never recognized because he ran under the flag of France, of which the Ageria was a colony, a nation that quickly forgot him. Unforgettable though, the barefoot run of Abebe Bikila in Rome ’60, until the gold of the marathon: the first for a black athlete, not son of colonizers and sub-Saharan Africa.

Rugby and South Africa, a combination that cannot ignore the name of Chester Williams. Disappeared in 2019, he was the first black Springbok of the professional era, and winner of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. For his role in winning the trophy, disputed after the end of the apartheid regime, Williams is a emblematic figure of the new Multiracial. country, won in a team historically reserved for whites. Also in South Africa, Pierre de Villiersformer scrum-half, became the first “coloured” coach in 2008, a position he held until 2011.

And then there is football: Morocco has opened the doors to major international events in Africa and Mexico 70 obtained the continent’s first qualification for a world championship, followed four years later by Zaire. In Argentina in 1978, Tunisia beat Mexico 3-1, the first African team to win a game. But the year that marked the history of African football is 1990. The Cameroon of Roger Milla defeated defending champions Maradona of Argentina in the opening match, goal by Omam Biyik: the first victory against a national team who are reigning world champions. A path then passed for the first Olympic gold medal in football with Nigeria, in 1996, and culminating, in 2010, with the arrival in Africa of the first World Cup, more precisely in South Africa. And last January a wall also fell which hid another one: Salima Mukansanga, 33, from Rwanda, has become the first woman to coach an Africa Cup of Nations game, Zimbabwe-Guinea. Former basketball player, she has thus written a page of time, in a continent which recognizes only recently and with difficulty the equality of rights in sport.


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