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Tokyo 2020: African athletes to watch

As the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo on 23 July, we take a look at some of the African athletes to watch out for during the tournament – from newcomers to established champions seeking yet more success.

This year, five new occasions have been added to the Olympics – surfing, sport climbing, baseball/softball, skating and karate – and some African competitors are partaking.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: African Athletes to watch

35 Olympians in total

  • Taoufik Makhloufi, 33

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    Algeria – Runner

    Taoufik Makhloufi is a middle-distance runner (800m and 1,500m races).

  • Nijel Amos, 27

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    Botswana – Runner

    Nijel Amos, from Botswana, is a runner and silver medalist at the 800m at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

  • Hugues Fabrice Zango, 28

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    Burkina Faso – Triple Jumper

    Hugues Fabrice is a Burkinabé triple jumper who won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

  • Cheick Cissé, 27

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    Ivory Coast – Taekwondo

    Cheick Cissé made history when he won Ivory Coast’s first ever Olympic gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

  • Marie-Josée Ta Lou, 32

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    Ivory Coast – Runner

    Marie-Josée Ta Lou is an Ivorian sprinter who runs 100m and 200m.

  • Ruth Gbagbi, 27

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    Ivory Coast – Taekwondo

    Ruth Gbagbi is an Ivorian taekwondo athlete and Rio 2016 bronze Olympic medallist. She is also the 2017 World Champion and currently ranked world number 2 in the 67kg category.

  • Giana Farouk, 26

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    Egypt – Karate

    Giana Mohamed Farouk Lofty is an Egyptian karateka who is making her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

  • Merhawi Kudus, 27

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    Eritrea – Cycling

    Merhawi Kudus, 27 is an Eritrean cyclist who took the third position in the individual general classification of the Turkey 2019 Cycling Tour.

  • Letesenbet Gidey, 23

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    Ethiopia – Long-distance Runner

    Letesenbet Gidey is an Ethiopian marathon runner and world-record holder. Gidey holds the 5,000m world record and recently broke the 10,000m record.

  • Selemon Barega, 21

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    Ethiopia – Long-distance Runner

    Selemon Barega is an Ethiopian long-distance runner who won the silver medal for the 5,000m at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.

  • Gina Bass, 26

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    The Gambia – Runner

    Gina Bass is a Gambian sprinter who won the gold medal in the women’s 200m race at the Rabat 2019 African Games.

  • Brigid Kosgei, 27

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    Kenya – Marathon runner

    Brigid Kosgei is a Kenyan marathon runner who won in Chicago in 2018 and 2019 and in London in 2019 and 2020.

  • Eliud Kipchoge, 36

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    Kenya – Marathon runner

    Eliud Kipchoge is a professional long-distance runner.

  • Khadija Mardi, 30

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    Morocco – Boxing

    Khadija Mardi is a Moroccan boxer. She participated in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but lost out at the women’s middle (69-75kg) quarter-final 2 match.

  • Ramzi Boukhiam, 27

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    Morocco – Surfing

    Ramzi Boukhiam is a professional surfer.

  • Deisy Nhaquile, 20

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    Mozambique – Sailing

    Deisy Nhaquile is a Mozambican sailor who’ll be featuring in an Olympic Games for the first time at Tokyo 2020.

  • Blessing Okagbare, 33

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    Nigeria – Long jumper/Runner

    Blessing Okagbare is a Nigerian long jump and short sprints athlete.

  • Ese Brume, 25

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    Nigeria – Long jumper

    Ese Brume is one of three African women jumpers to exceed 7m.

  • Rodney Govinden, 35

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    Seychelles – Sailing

    Rodney Govinden will be representing Seychelles at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Chad Le Clos, 29

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    South Africa – Swimming

    Chad le Clos is a South African swimmer who has won several medals including one gold at the London 2012 Olympics and two silvers at Rio 2016.

  • Akani Simbine, 27

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    South Africa – Runner

    Akani Simbine is a South African sprinter who won a gold medal for the 100m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and came 4th at the 2019 World Championships.

  • Caitlin Rooskrantz, 19

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    South Africa – Gymnastics

    Caitlin Rooskrantz is set to make her debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

  • Erin Sterkenburg, 18

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    South Africa – Sport Climbing

    Erin Sterkenburg is a South African climber and Africa’s only Olympic-bound climber to be participating in one of the five new sporting activities included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Boipelo Awuah, 15

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    South Africa – Skateboarding

    Boipelo Awuah is the first skateboarder from South Africa at the Olympics.

  • Blitzboks

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    South Africa – Rugby Sevens

    South Africa’s Rugby Sevens Team, also known as the Blitzboks, won a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

  • Ons Jabeaur, 26

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    Tunisia – Tennis

    Ons Jabeaur is a Tunisian tennis player and the first North African to win a Women’s Tennis Association title.

  • Ines Boubakri, 32

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    Tunisia – Fencing

    Ines Boubakri is a Tunisian fencer who won the bronze medal at the women’s individual foil fencing event of the Rio 2016 Olympics, making her the first Arab and African woman to win an Olympic medal in fencing games

  • Jacob Kiplimo, 20

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    Uganda – Runner

    Jacob Kiplimo is a Ugandan long-distance runner who competed in the 3,000m men’s race at the 2020 IAAF Diamond League Golden Gala.

  • Joshua Cheptegei, 25

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    Uganda – Runner

    Joshua Cheptegei is a Ugandan long-distance runner who secured a gold medal in the 10,000m at the 2019 World Athletics Championships and set a new world record during the 5,000m at the Monaco 2020 Diamond League.

  • Copper Queens

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    Zambia – Football

    The Zambian women’s national football team, also known as the Copper Queens or She-Polopolo, will be making their Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

  • Scott Vincent, 29

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    Zimbabwe – Golf

    Scott Vincent is making his Olympic debut at this year’s games. In 2019, the Zimbabwean golfer finished 4th at the Japan Open Golf Championships.

  • D’Tigers

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    Nigeria – Basketball

    Nigeria’s men’s basketball team, also known as D’Tigers, won the 2015 Afrobasket and came second at the 2017 edition of the games.


  • The Pearls

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    Angola – Handball

    Angola women’s national handball team also known as The Pearls are the 2021 African Women’s Handball Champions.

  • Oussama Mellouli, 37

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    Tunisia – Swimming

    Oussama Mellouli is a Tunisian long-distance swimmer who won the gold medal for the 1,500m freestyle at Beijing 2008 Olympics and the Marathon 10km swim at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

    These African athletes represent the different regions of the continent. They were chosen dependent on their Olympic experience, number of awards won and the uniqueness of their game.



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