Canoeists from over 15 countries competed at the Confederation of Africa Canoe Sprint and Para Canoe qualifiers in Abuja, Nigeria with many hoping to land a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The president of the International Canoe Federation commended the organization.
“As a host, Nigeria is doing a really good and professional job to provide a stage for the best athletes from Africa,” Thomas Konietzko said. It is an important political sign within the continent in Africa that we are going also in new areas where we’ve never been before.”
Athletes took part in 18 races for men and women, including singles, doubles, and mixed double categories, with eight qualifier tickets up for grabs from Thursday (Nov.23) until over the weekend.
The competition was fierce. The African qualifiers were the first continent qualifiers for next year’s Olympics.
“I competed for C2 (Canoe for 2 people) 500-meter, which is an Olympic event and we qualified,” Bello Ayomide Powei, Nigerian canoe athlete said. “If there are coaches that stand by me and train me, I believe I am coming back with something. I believe I am going to make the nation proud.”
“It’s a little bit challenging because there are lots of the best athletes. I want to win but only God knows my position on the water,” Drevor Lespoir from the Seychelles said.
Finally, Angola, Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa emerged triumphant and secured their tickets for the Olympics.
Also competing were athletes from: Djibouti, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, São Tomé, Senegal, Seychelles, Uganda.
The president of the International Canoe Federation hoped to see further development of the sport in the continent.