Last-minute winner

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 30 Apr 2024

Egypt won the 2024 African Judo Championships with little room to spare, reports Inas Mazhar



Twenty-seven countries took part in the three-day 2024 African Judo Championships held in Cairo from 25 to 27 April, with 17 nations making it to the podium while demonstrating the dynamism of African judo.

The final day saw vigorous duels in the individual competition. Egypt and Algeria fought until the last minute to take the lead in the country rankings.

Egypt won with three golds, two silver and three bronze in addition to three wins for fifth place and four wins for seventh place. Algeria followed with the same medals as well as a one fifth-place and seventh-place win.

According to the website of the African Judo Union (AJU), the African Championships were no exception to the rule giving the advantage to the host country in the last men’s final thanks to the victory of Egypt’s Mohamed Abo Rakia against the Algerian Mohamed El Mehdi Lili. An opposite result would have placed Algeria at the top of the ranking of nations.

It was tight between the sport’s two giants with only the number of fifth places the difference between them, with Egypt placing two more athletes than Algeria at the foot of the podium.

Behind the two bests, Morocco and Tunisia also fought a fierce battle, with the Moroccans securing third place with two golds, two silver and five bronze in addition to winning four fifth-place ranks. Tunisia were fourth with two golds, one silver and four bronze as well as four wins in fifth place.

Guinea took two gold medals while Cameroon claimed a gold and two silver while the AJU settled for one gold and five bronze as well as four wins in fifth place and a win four seventh.

Senegal clinched a silver and two bronze whereas Cape Verde claimed a silver and a bronze. South Africa, the Central African Republic and Mauritius each won a silver whereas Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Zambia and Gambia each won a bronze.

“The African Championships brought together a wide array of fantastic judo combined with the participation of very passionate judoka on the way to the Olympics Games,” International Judo Federation Director General Vlad Marinescu said. “Congratulations to the Egyptian Judo Federation, its president and his team, the government who organised this great event, as well as the African Judo Union president and the board members of the organisation who contributed to the stellar event that brought together almost 200 athletes from 34 countries,” Marinescu said.

The 2024 championship had particular importance for the participating nations since it was the last chance for the judokas to book a seat to this summer’s Paris Olympic Games. The points for Egypt will have a significant impact on the list of qualifiers.

The AJU  released the names of the judokas who left Cairo with partial guarantees to be in Paris this summer, including Younes Saddiki (MAR, -60kg), Kais Moudetere (ALG, -66kg), Messaoud Redouane Dris (ALG, -73kg), Abdel-Rahman Mohamed (EGY, -81kg), Ali Hazem (EGY, -90kg), Koussay Ben Ghares (TUN, -100kg) and Mohamed Abo Rakia (EGY, +100kg).

For women, Oumaima Bedioui (TUN, -48kg), Soumiya Iraoui (MAR, -52kg), Mariana Esteves (GUI, -57kg), Amina Belkadi (ALG, -63kg), Maria Niangi (AJU, -70kg), Marie Branser (GUI, -78kg) and Richelle Anita Soppi Mbella (CMR, +78kg), are the new African champions of this very fine 2024 vintage.

The AJU sang the praises of the competition including the bronze medal won by Simon Zulu (ZAM), at -60kg, which it said gave proof that the development undertaken in Zambia in recent years is bearing fruit.

Also, the performance of Zouleiha Abzetta Dabonne (CIV, bronze) at -57kg and Assmaa Niang (MAR, silver) at -70kg, who have been on the international circuit for many years, demonstrated that experience plays an important role in judo while the young generation is pushing hard.

“There are now only a few events left in which to get the precious points for Paris 2024. For the time being let’s celebrate judo and especially African judo. The show was fantastic and the future looks bright for our sport,” the AJU website wrote.

On the last day of the tournament, certificates of recognition were presented to four judokas including Egyptian Mohamed Ali Rashwan who won Egypt’s first African Olympic medal in judo, a silver, at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984; Moroccan Soumiya Iraoui in the  -52kg category as best female African athlete, currently ranked 18th in the world; Algerian Messaoud Redouane Dris, in the  -73kg category, as best male African athlete, currently ranked 17th in the world, and Angolan Maria Niangi,  -70kg category and chosen most improved African athlete.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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