Ethiopia Jemal Mekonnen won the first medal at the 21st African Athletics Championship in Asaba on Wednesday. Mekonnen finished in 29:08.01 secs to win the 10,000m men’s final ahead of his compatriot Andamalak Belilu Berta who took silver in 29:11.09 while Timothy Toroitich of Uganda finished with a bronze medal in 29:11.87.
In 100m men’s event which took place on Wednesday, South Africa Akani Simbine raced to a first place finish in a time of 10.30 secs in heat 4. Karrim Riffaya was second in 10:48 secs behind the Commonwealth champion while Kenya’s Mark Odhiambo was third in a time of 10:61secs.
Enoch Adegoke of Nigeria could still make the semi final as one of the best losers after placing 4th in 10:64 secs.
In heat 1, defending champion Ben Youssef Meite of Coted I’voire won the race in 10:41 secs, South Africa’s Simon Magakwe finished second in 10:42 secs while Nigeria’s Ogho-Oghene Egwero placed third in 10:52 secs.
Ivorian Arthur Cisse won heat 2 in 10:43 secs ahead of Roscoe Engel in second in 10:62 secs while Assan Faye of Gambia was third in 10:78 secs.
Three-time national champion, Seye Ogunlewe won the final 100m heat in 10:42 secs ahead of Namibia’s Gilbert Hanuga in 10:44 secs.
In heat 5, Ngoni Makusha of Zimbabwe placed first in 10.37 secs ahead of Karabo Mothibi in 10.46 secs and Emmanuel Yeboah in 10.50 secs in third.
Earlier, Making of Champions sensation, Joy Udo-Gabriel was the first Nigerian to qualify to the semi final in 11:64 secs. The national junior champion sawoff Gambia’s Gina Bass in second in 11:74 secs and Natacha Akamabi in third in a time of 11:78 secs.
African record holder, Marie Jose Ta Lou had no problem in heat 1 as she won the race in 11:25 secs ahead of Ghana’s Janet Amposah in 11.63 secs and Cassidy Williamson of South Africa in 11.79 secs.
In heat 2, South Africa’s Tebogo Mamatu who ran a time of 11:90 secs finished ahead of Ivorian Nanzie Adeline in second.
Nigeria’s Mercy Ntia-Obong placed second in 11:66 secs behind Basant Hemida who won in 11:60 while Ghana’s Halutie Hor was third in 11:77 secs.
The men and women’s semi-finals will take place on Thursday.
The opening ceremony and match past was done after the 10000m race. A total number of 53 countries will be participating at this year’s African Athletics Championship in Asaba.