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African Olympic Heroes to Look Out for in the 2020 Summer Olympics

DStv and GOtv customers can look forward to the world’s biggest and most diverse celebration of sport, the Summer Olympic Games, which will run from Friday, 23 July to Sunday, 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

With the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020 just over three weeks away, we take a closer look at the athletes which have defined Africa’s history at the Olympics:

Kirsty Coventry

Africa’s most decorated Olympian, Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry won seven medals across the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, including Gold at each event for the 200m backstroke.

Abebe Bikila

The first sub-Saharan, Ethiopian and black African to win Olympic Gold, as well as the first to defend the Marathon title at the Games, Abebe Bikila is an all-time legend of African sports and regarded as the man who inspired East Africa’s dominance of long-distance running.

Tirunesh Dibaba

The ‘Baby Faced Destroyer’ was the first woman to win the 10,000m and 5,000m events in the same Olympics when she claimed a Gold double at Beijing 2008, and she followed that up with another 10,000m triumph at the Games in London four years later.

Hicham El Guerrouj

Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj is the only man since running legend Paavo Nurmi to earn a gold medal in both the 1500m and 5000m at the same Olympic Games in Athens 2004. He holds seven of the 10 fastest times ever recorded in the 1500m and mile and is widely regarded as the greatest middle-distance runner of all time.

Evarine Katongo of Zambia U20 during the 2019 COSAFA Women Championship U20 match between Zambia and Tanzania on the 06 August 2019 at Wolfson Stadium, Port Elizabeth Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Caster Semenya

South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya deserves her place on the list of greatest African Olympians for two Golds in the 800m at London 2012 (reallocated to her in 2017 after original winner Mariya Savinova was disqualified for doping) and Rio 2016, but also for her grit, determination and presence as an icon for those with DSD.

El Sayed Nosseir

Egypt’s first Gold medal winner was El Sayed Nosseir, who won the light heavyweight class at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. His lift of 355kg was a world record at the time and inspired a generation of Egyptian weightlifters, who went on to great success at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

Penny Heyns

Penelope ‘Penny’ Heyns is regarded as one of the greatest breaststroke swimmers of all time and was South Africa’s first post-apartheid Olympic Gold medallist. She is the only woman in the history of the Olympics to win the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the same Games (Atlanta 1996).

Haile Gebrselassie

Regarded as one of the greatest distance runners in history, Haile Gebrselassie won back-to-back 10,000m Olympic Golds at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games. Yet that is only the tip of the iceberg as far as his career achievements are concerned, as he also set 27 world records and broke 61 national Ethiopian records ranging from the 800m right up to the Marathon.

Chad le Clos

With four medals – including Gold in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Games in London – Chad le Clos is undoubtedly one of Africa’s greatest Olympians. Aged just 27 at the time of writing, he could yet grow that legacy even further in the 2020 and 2024 Games.

Eliud Kipchoge

Renowned as the first man to (unofficially) run a sub two-hour Marathon and the current holder of the official record of 2:01:39 in the distance, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge also boasts three Olympic medals: Bronze in the 5000m in 2004, Silver in the same event in 2008 and Gold in the Marathon at the 2012 Games in London.

Eric Bailly of Ivory Coast clears ball from Dieudonne Bezua Mbokani of DR Congo during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon football match between Ivory Coast and DR Congo at the Oyem Stadium in Gabon on 20 January 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Viewers on DStv and GOtv can see all their favourite Olympic Games stars at Tokyo 2020, with thousands of world class athletes from around the world set to entertain for over two weeks of incredible action from the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

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