Sport in 2019: Eliud Kipchoge, South Africa make history

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(Left to right) Photo montage showing Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya and South African rugby captain Siya Kolisi and President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Getty Images)

2019 gave African sports fans plenty of reasons to celebrate. From Kenyans running into the record books to VAR bringing a controversial end to the CAF Champions League Final, the past year in sport in Africa is one that will be remembered for years to come. 

Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after running the first-ever sub-2-hour marathon (1:59:40) during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge on October 12, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Robert Szaniszlo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge further solidified his place in history by winning his 4th London Marathon with a time  2:02:37 and followed that feat by becoming the first person to run a 42-kilometer marathon in under two hours. Kipchoge completed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in Vienna, Austria, in October. However, the athletics’ world governing body has not validated Kipchoge’s time as a world record because it didn’t occur in an open competition and due to how it was paced.

 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – OCTOBER 13: Brigid Kosgei of Kenya sets new world record in winning the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei set a world best half marathon time of 1 hour four minutes 28 seconds to win the Great North Run in September. However, her time, which was 23 seconds quicker than the world record, was not ratified as a world record as the Great North Run course is not eligible for records. Kosgei followed that up by smashing the women’s marathon world record by 71 seconds in Chicago with a time of 2 hours 14 minutes 4 seconds the following month. Britain’s Paula Radcliffe had held the previous record for 16 years.

South Africa’s Siya Kolisi (center) lifts the trophy as South Africa win the 2019 Rugby World Cup final match at Yokohama Stadium. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

 

South Africa beat England 32-12 in Yokohama, Japan, to win its third Rugby World Cup. Springboks captain Siya Kolisi also became the first black captain to lift the trophy. South Africa also became the first team to complete a Rugby Championship and World Cup double after claiming the former title in August.

Algerian players celebrate after winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations CAN Final football match between Senegal and Algeria at the Cairo Stadium in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Ahmed Awaad/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Algeria claimed its second Africa Cup of Nations title after defeating Senegal 1-0. The win was Algeria’s first AFCON championship in 29 years. The matchup with Senegal was the first AFCON final since 1998, and the sixth one in AFCON history, to be contested by two African coaches: Djamel Belmadi of Algeria and Aliou Cissé of Senegal.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – MARCH 29: Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor of Kenya celebrates winning the Men’s Half Marathon during the IAAF/Al-Bank World Half Marathon Championships on March 29, 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for IAAF)

Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya chose not to compete at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in September in order to make an attempt at breaking the half marathon world record. The Kenyan’s gamble paid off as he broke the record when he won the fifth edition of the Copenhagen Half Marathon in 58 minutes one second that same month. The previous record of 58 minutes 18 seconds was held by compatriot Abraham Kiptum, who triumphed at the Valencia Half Marathon in October last year.

 

Caster Semenya of South Africa crosses the line to win the Women’s 800 metres during the IAAF Diamond League event at the Khalifa International Stadium on May 03, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

It was a very tumultuous year for South African runner Caster Semenya. In May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favor of the IAAF decision to regulate unusually high levels of testosterone in female athletes. The ruling, essentially, banned Semenya from running in her preferred distance, the 400m. However, in June, a Swiss court temporarily suspended the IAAF’s decision, allowing Semenya and other women like her to compete in races of all distances.

 

 

Football players of Esperance receive the trophy from Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed as Esperance won the championship title after football players of Wydad Casablanca abandoned the field during the CAF Champions League final match between Esperance and Wydad Casablanca at Stade Olympique de Rades in Rades, Tunisia.
(Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

VAR controversy found its way into Africa’s premier football club competition as Tunisian club Esperance won a fourth CAF Champions League. During the second leg of the final, Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca, which was trailing by a goal, refused to continue playing following a dispute over the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system. The referee subsequently awarded the match to Esperance. A CAF disciplinary hearing in August would validate that decision after Wydad was found guilty of abandoning the match. The abandonment was the first time in the competition’s history that a match in the home-and-away final format had not been completed.

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