Africa goes for Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic qualification
It was a feast of colour with 21 countries going to Tunis, Tunisia for the FISA African Olympic and Paralympic Continental Qualification Regatta from 10-12 October.
More than 70 rowers took part, competing for five qualification places in each the men’s and women’s single sculls and one spot in each the lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. For the Tokyo Paralympic Games there was one spot each in the para PR1 men’s and women’s single sculls.
In the men’s single, Abdelkhalek Elbanna from Egypt claimed first in a tight race ahead of Zimbabwe’s Peter Purcell-Gilpin. Elbanna competed at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after qualifying through the African Continental Qualification Regatta. This would be Purcell-Gilpin’s first Olympic Games if he is confirmed by the Zimbabwe National Olympic Committee. Tunisia’s Mohamed Taieb took the third place, with Oussama Habiche of Algeria and Privel Hinkati of Benin in fourth and fifth respectively.
In the women’s single sculls, Namibia’s Maike Diekmann claimed the top spot in a finishing time of 8:21.65. Diekmann has been training in South Africa, where she is currently studying. She recently finished in the C-final at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and is one of the nominees for the 2019 Namibia Sports Awards. Nihad Benchadli from Algeria took second, beating Zimbabwean Lieben Dickens in a dramatic race. Morocco’s Sarah Fraincart finished fourth, with Tunisia’s Sarra Zameli in fifth.
Athletes competed in good weather conditions, ranging from 20-27 degrees Celsius. The wind that hit the regatta course during the first days of competition had died down by the finals day on Saturday.
The weather shift was welcome for the rowers in the lightweight women’s double sculls, where Tunisia won ahead of Algeria and Egypt. Tunisia’s crew of Nour el houda Ettaieb and Khadija Krimi has quite some experience. Ettaieb raced at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, having also competed at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Krimi and Ettaieb first raced internationally together back in 2013 in the junior women’s double sculls.
In the lightweight men’s double sculls, Algeria snagged the top spot ahead of Tunisia and Egypt. Algeria’s Kamel Ait Daoud competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, then took a break from international rowing. He then missed out on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games. So at the age of 34, Ait Daoud is back for his second Olympics. Ait Daoud’s doubles partner Sid ali Boudina has raced primarily in the men’s single and raced at the Rio 2019 Olympics in the single. Their partnership in the lightweight men’s double seems to have paid off.
For the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic qualification, Asya Sururu from Kenya took the top spot in the para PR1 women’s single sculls. This came after a very close race ahead of Nigeria’s Oluwatoyin Mary Alayode. Nigeria, however, triumphed on the men’s side when Kingsley Okoroafor Ijomah won ahead of Tunisia.
For quota places obtained at the African Continental Qualification Regatta, as there were no National Olympic Committees (NOC) that placed first in multiple events, or reached the same qualification placing in two or more events, multiple qualification positions automatically went to the crews that placed higher. This allowed other nations such as Ivory Coast and Libya in the men's single and Uganda, Togo and Nigeria in the women's single to claim a spot in Tokyo.
The final qualification spots are now to be confirmed by the respective NOC's still being allocated according to the document here.
For full results from the event, click here.