Over the years Africa has been making its mark in the world of sports, we are seeing sports stars from our continent celebrated on a global level while breaking world records. We thought it would be apt to take a look at some of the greatest sports legends from the continent.
Eliud Kipchoge – Long Distance Runner – Kenya
No stranger to the pages of Betway Insider Eliud Kipchoge is the current World Record Holder for the fastest Marathon after running 2:01:39 in Berlin earlier this year. Kipchoge has participated in 11 Marathons since 2013 and won all except 1 (2013 Berlin Marathon, 2nd place). He has won 7 World Marathon Majors, come first in the World Championships and was the Gold medal winner in the Marathon at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics. He is truly one of the most decorated marathon runners from Africa and we hope he reaches his goal of running a marathon in under two hours.
George Weah – Footballer – Liberia
George Weah has long been considered one of the greatest football exports from Africa, a 3 time African Footballer of the Year he played for clubs like AC Milan, Manchester City and Chelsea. His 18-year career saw him score 193 goals in his 411 appearances. It was Arsene Wenger who first brought Weah to Europe in 1988 when he signed him to Monaco. In 1995 he was awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year and he won the Ballon d’Or making him the first and to date, the only player from Africa win these awards. Weah has retired from football and taken up politics his current role is the President of Liberia.
Mokgadi Caster Semenya – Middle Distance Runner – South Africa
One of Africa’s best female athletes Caster Semenya has dealt with a fair amount of controversy in her amazing career so far. The current 800m Olympic and World Champion has been subject to gender testing and scrutiny with many calling for her to be banned from the sport. Under these conditions Caster has still managed to maintain her composure and become even better, over the last few years she has dominated in the 800m and has set her sights on breaking the World Record.
Makhaya Ntini – Cricketer – South Africa
Ntini became the first ethnically black person to play for the National cricket team in South Africa in 1998. He fast became one of South Africa’s premium fast bowlers and one of the prominent fast bowlers in the world. He became the third South African to take 300 Test Wickets and he reached 2nd place in the ICC test match bowling ratings. In 2009 he was ranked as the worlds 5th best Test Bowler. Ntini played over 100 test for South Africa and took 390 wickets. He later went on to coach the Zimbabwean national Team.
Haile Gebrselassie – Long Distance Track Runner – Ethiopia
Before Kipchoge became the world’s fastest marathon runner there was Haile Gebrselassie. The man from Ethiopia had a 20-year long career that saw him holding not only 60 Ethiopian national records but also 27 World Records. When he was 35 years old he smashed his own World Record at the Berlin Marathon an event he had already won 4 consecutive times. Haile started his career in track and only moved to road running in 2004.
Didier Drogba – Footballer – Ivory Coast
The most expensive Ivorian player to grace the premier League Drogba was signed by Chelsea for an impressive £24 Million. In 2012 he became the first African player to score 100 goals in the English Premier League, in his eight years at Chelsea he helped the club win the league twice and the FA Cup, and he has long been regarded by Chelsea fans as the clubs greatest player ever. Drogba also captained his national team and holds the record as the all-time goal scorer for his country.
Gary Player – Golfer – South Africa
Gary Player a golfer from South Africa is considered as one of the greatest golfers ever. During his career, he obtained 9 major titles and won 6 Champions Tour majors. At the age of 29 in 1965 he became the first non-American and African to win all four majors, he was only the third person at the time to achieve this. Player has won a total of 165 tournaments and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. He later became a golf course architect and has helped design 325 courses around the world.
Frank “Frankie” Fredericks – Track and Field Athlete – Namibia
Fredericks was the first Namibian to win a medal at the Olympics, he has a total of 4 silver medals (2 in 1992 and 2 in 1996) for the 100 meters and 200 meters. In addition, he won gold medals at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games. He is the indoor world record holder for 200m which he ran in 19.92 seconds and the Men’s 200m African Record Holder. Frankie took a break from running for 2 years while he recovered from an Achilles injury. In 2002 he returned to and won Gold at the Commonwealth Games, he was the oldest in the field at the time. One week later he completed a double win at the African Championships before retiring from the sport.
Kipchoge Keino – Track and Field Athlete – Kenya
One of Kenya’s prized possessions when it comes to athletes, he has helped and inspired many of the Kenyan athletes we know of today. He has 2 Olympic gold and silver medals, he holds 3 gold Commonwealth games medals and 2 All Africa Games gold medals. In the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, he won the 1500m not only claiming the gold medal but he also beat the World Record Holder and favourite Jim Ryun by 20m (this is the largest winning margin in the entire history of this event). He became the chairman of the Kenyan Olympic Committee until 2017. In 2012 He was inducted as an inaugural member of the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall Of Fame. In 2016 at the Brazil Olympic opening ceremony Keino was awarded the first Olympic Laurel for outstanding service to the Olympic movement.
Samuel Eto’o Fils – Footballer – Cameroon
Some say he is the best footballer from the African continent (but that is another debate) but, one thing is for sure he is the most decorated footballer from Africa. He is a 4-time African Footballer of the year, an Olympic Gold medalist, the all-time leading goal scorer in the African Cup of Nations and he is the record holder for the most appearances by an African player in La Liga. In 2010 he became the first player to win 2 European continental trebles. He is the 2nd player to score in two UEFA Champions League finals and the 4th person in Champions League history to have won the trophy back to back with different teams. In 2005 he was placed 3rd for the FIFA World Player of the Year and he has twice been named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI.