the best African chances in Tokyo

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Opening ceremony for the 16th Paralympic Games in Tokyo, August 24, 2021.

In 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Africa had obtained 99 medals, including 36 in gold. Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Algeria and Egypt had greatly contributed to this beautiful harvest with 76 awards. This year in Tokyo, African athletes will try to do as well as in Latin America five years ago. And their chances are very real, especially in athletics, weightlifting and tennis. Here are the champions to watch for the 2021 Paralympic Games.

  • Lucy Ejike (Nigeria, athletic force)

In Nigeria, but also in Africa, Lucy Ejike, who uses a wheelchair after contracting polio in her youth, is a true icon of disabled sports. At 43, she is preparing to compete in her sixth Paralympic Games with, as in previous editions, high ambitions. The weightlifter has won the gold medal three times: in 2004 in Athens (less than 44 kg), in 2008 in Beijing (less than 48 kg) and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro (under 61 kg). In Sydney in 2000 and London in 2012, she climbed to the second step of the podium. This year in Tokyo, Lucy Ejike will be the main candidate for her succession, a status reinforced by her recent title of world champion won in Manchester this year.

  • Kgothatso Montjane (South Africa, wheelchair tennis)

South African Kgothatso Montjane in training in Pretoria, in April 2021.

Sixth player in the world, the South African, now 35, knows that the Tokyo Games will undoubtedly represent her last chance to win a medal. Already present in 2008, 2012 and 2016, the native of Polokwane, suffering from a congenital disease affecting the use of her hands and her foot (she had her other foot amputated when she was a teenager), especially shone in tournaments on the women’s circuit, winning around thirty. She was the first black South African player to compete at Wimbledon in 2018 and reach the semi-finals of the US Open a year later. In Tokyo, she will be a candidate for a medal, hoping to do better than in Rio, where she was eliminated in the second round.

  • El Amine Chentouf (Morocco, athletics)

Moroccan El Amine Chentouf at the Rio Games in 2016.

In 2012, while taking part in his first Games, El Amine Chentouf, then 31, won the gold medal over 5,000 meters, clocking a time of 13 minutes 53 seconds 76 hundredths, or just one minute. more than the world record set by a valid athlete! A major performance for this visually impaired football fan who came late to athletics. Since his London coronation, the Moroccan has notably won three gold medals in 2013 at the world championships in Lyon, the prestigious London marathon in 2016 and the military world games in 2019. In Rio de Janeiro, during the Paralympic Games, Chentouf had to settle for the silver medal over 5,000 meters. At 40, however, he seems to be the best equipped to obtain a new Paralympic coronation.

  • Egyptian National Men’s Volleyball Selection

In team sports, the Egyptian men’s sitting volleyball team is arguably one of the best medal chances for Africa. Third in 2004 and 2016, the Egyptians will face Japan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Russia in the first round. Egypt is the best African nation and it has particularly experienced players accustomed to international competitions in its squad, including veterans Abdelatif Abdelnaby and Abdallah Achraf, aged 49 and 47 respectively. With an average age of almost 35, Egypt will be one of the oldest teams in the tournament. And for many of its players, Tokyo will be the last opportunity to grab a last podium …

  • Raoua Tlili (Tunisia, shot put and discus)

Tunisian Raoua Tlili at the 2017 London Paralympic Athletics World Championships.

Leaving Japan without excess baggage would undoubtedly be a disappointment for Tunisian Raoua Tlili (31 years old, 1.33 m). Since the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, where she made a remarkable first appearance by obtaining gold in the discus throw and silver in the shot put, the native of Gafsa has been one of the world’s best specialists in both disciplines. She has already won six Paralympic medals, including four in gold, the last two in Rio de Janeiro, and as many world titles. The Tunisian champion also knows how to speak out when it comes to denouncing the lack of resources for disabled sports, as she did in March during the meeting in Tunis: “Despite the medals won by Tunisian athletes, the working conditions and the lack of supervision are the explanations for a considerable drop in the number of disabled sports enthusiasts in Tunisia. “