Passing the baton to Africa

The success of the Kenyan competitors in Beijing is good news for Africa and athletics.

Ethiopia's medallists pose with their medals on the podium during the 2015 IAAF World Championships 2015. Greg Baker / AFP
Powered by automated translation

A remarkable thing happened at the World Athletics Championships that just finished in Beijing: Kenya topped the medal tally, just ahead of Jamaica. The United States was third, with other big sporting nations – Britain (fourth), Russia (ninth), China (11th) – further off the pace. It would appear that the old world order in athletics is finally being challenged.

The success of Kenya – and Ethiopia, which came fifth – is a good news story for Africa. It must be encouraging for the individual medallists, their team mates and their countries to know that ­African athletes are capable of winning on the world stage without having access to the vast amounts of money and other resources enjoyed by their competitors. It certainly is an important psychological boost for track and field competitors as they look towards next year’s Olympic Games.

The race to Rio de Janeiro is a marathon rather than a sprint, but the Kenyans have put themselves in the lead.