Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: African
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 2 October, 2000, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
The Olympics: How can Africa win more medals?

Monday 25 September was a good day for African athletes at the Sydney Olympic Games.

News and Information for Africa
Ethiopia's Haile Gebreselassie retained his crown as Olympic 10,000 metre champion and Mozambique gained its first ever Olympic gold medal when Maria Mutola won the 800 metres.

But what can be done to bring more Olympic medals to the African continent? And how can medals be won in disciplines other than middle and long distance running?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The answer to the question is simple: money

Lara Pawson, Angola
The answer to the question is simple: money. If you notice, the richest countries in the world win most of the medals. In contrast in Africa, athletes and other sportsmen don't receive the financial support to dedicate time to their chosen sport. Here in Angola, there aren't the swimming pools, the stadiums, the tracks, the basketball courts, the trainers, and so on to develop Olympic standard athletes. However, there is bags of talent.
Lara Pawson, Angola

The rate at which Aids, war, poverty and total despair has decimated us, it will be any wonder if we will have anyone left to compete in future Olympics.
Eric Rwiliriza, USA

I do not know what people are talking about when they say that the only sports that Africans succeed in are track. Cameroon has just won Gold, making it the second consecutive football Gold by an African country. Give credit where credit is due.
Kristin Klark, Cameroon/ USA

Africans are natural athletes. African descendants living in the West in countries such as the United States have proven this many times over, dominating in track and field, basketball, football, baseball and boxing.
Titi George, Nigerian in the USA

Ethiopians have already got 3 Gold medals. And if you see the rankings, Ethiopia is 4th in the world in athletics. Viva Ethiopia!!!! Viva Africa!!!!
Dula, Ethiopia

Africa will never be able to compete internationally as long as corrupt African leaders are investing in their pockets instead of investing in their people. To compete, African athletes need a minimum of infrastructure and equipment. Regrettably, Africans leaders steal the money that is supposed to be invested to achieve that.
Mamadou Diallo, Guinea living in USA

It will only be a case of luck if Africa wins any more medals

Tunde Ogunremi, UK
Africa has really disappointed me in this Olympics and from my view of the event so far Nigerians have not performed to their fullest standard. It will only be a case of luck if Africa wins any more medals.
Tunde Ogunremi, UK

Africans are very good at whatever they put their minds to, but because of corruption and political instability, they can't afford to compete in all sports. Africans are very hard working people but it is unfortunate that most of us cannot realise our dreams. I think that the West should set up a training centre where each year a number of young African men and women can train. African Leaders should also come together and build one big training centre somewhere in Africa for sportsmen and women to study and train.
Miss Naomi Shut, London

Africa has the natural potential to succeed in many sports disciplines. The main problem lies in the fact that African governments and the private sector don't define appropriate strategies for the development of their sporting potential. War and financial debts must not be used as excuses, because one of the best basketball teams in Africa is in Angola, which is severely affected by the war. In these Games and future Games, Africa won't get many medals, unless we start working seriously NOW.
Stelios Papadakis, Mozambique

The other major factor is cultural restrictions imposed on women in many African countries

Mekibib Dawit, Ethiopian/ UK
Africa has really underachieved in many sports except middle and long distance running for a number of reasons. The type of sporting activities that need expensive facilities like water sports need proper funding and coaching which is not available to many Africans because of lack of money. The other major factor is cultural restrictions imposed on women in many African countries.
Mekibib Dawit, Ethiopian/ UK

People think that Africa cannot win anything or be something in the world, but they are wrong because everyone has the right to be something. My view is that we are going to win many more medals, I am sure. So if you think that Africa is nothing you are wrong and I am sure that this will be proved one day.
Naima, Mozambique

I like the suggestion of including 'African' sports in the Olympics. If the IOC can justify baseball and Canadian kayaking (both not common outside America) then why not camel racing and African wrestling.
Robert Stewart, UK

African countries need to pick 10-20 of the best of their sportsmen and women and send them to schools in the US since many countries back home do not have the facilities.
Kohwo Enaohwo, USA

Africa exists in a different world

Seyi Aiyegbusi, Nigerian, UK
Africa exists in a different world. Athletics comes a long way down the list of priorities when there are people starving, children with no education and a lack of basic necessities. Britain can afford to devote millions of lottery cash to sportsmen in an effort to improve their sporting performances but African nations can't afford it. Which African president, suffering from debt repayments, civil war, famine, civil unrest, food and petrol shortages is going to authorise a bill of £100 million for sports. He would be out of office in a week.
Seyi Aiyegbusi, Nigerian, UK

The root of the problem is, as some contributors pointed out, political instability and thus meagre or non-existent sport programmes. One temporary option is if Africans in diaspora especially in Europe and N. America with their access to reputable facilities, can step-up for their respective countries.
Mohammed, Non-Somaliland

There are many ways of improving our Gold and Medals at the Olympic Games. One way is to start training young children intensively so that by the time they can participate in such competitions, they are more acclimated to the situation. Funding is also a very important variable and African governments should pay attention to the importance of sport competition events.
Muktar Amin, Ethiopia

The answer is to have more and better-funded sports academies. However, as it is most African countries do not even have enough money for national health and education services.
Garth, Zimbabwe

I think the African continent, justifiably, has performed beyond its scope

Anshas, USA
It is very easy to see the dominance of the developed nations in the Olympics, simply because they have the resources and manpower to participate in almost every event.
I think the African continent, justifiably, has performed beyond its scope. It lacks all that is essential to up-bring a competence in any field as compared to their Western counterparts: There is hardly any medical attention; poor training facilities; and lack of support from the individual states. As such we can say the only way forward is the goodwill of IOC, which is hardly forthcoming, and the involvement of the respective states.
Anshas, USA

Africans can bring medals from various other disciplines other than track and field. The problem is that countries across Africa don't have the finances or are plagued with turmoil and hardship. All Africans need is a chance with good facilities and descent coaches. If western countries set up a program to select Africans from across the continent to train for the next Olympics and provided them the facilities and coaches needed for training than you will see Africans winning many more events and various other disciplines.
R Atallah, USA

There is no reason why Africans can't win more gold in the Olympics. Except most African countries don't have the access to training facilities and supportive government.
Tamrat Negash, Ethiopia

the bottom line of it all is that athletes within the African continent need to be paid more so that they can take sport as a career

Tulani Nhamoinesu, Zimbabwe
I guess the bottom line of it all is that athletes within the African continent need to be paid more so that they can take sport as a career. I was one of the fastest in high school for 100m sprints but because I was going to be able to make a living out of it, so instead I took a marketing diploma. One less talented athlete for the Zimbabwean team.
I would have taken up a coaching job but I didn't want my family to starve. Another very important factor is that people in Africa do not go and watch athletic games, the only sport that we love watching is soccer so swimming, athletics and the likes suffer.
Tulani Nhamoinesu, Zimbabwe

Do you consider Beach Volleyball a sporting event? The whole Olympics has depreciated in value - a medal is worth less today than even a decade ago, it's nothing but a staged Hollywood award show. Why do we have variations of the same events - such as: breaststroke, synchronisation, butterfly¿ etc? Why not a 100 meter swim dash - any style, and the winner - the TRUE Olympian. The West always conceives ways to achieve their quest for superiority. Men/Women 100 meters and the football final are the ONLY medals that are still worth a penny.
Ike, Nigeria

Africans can only participate in competitions of the sports available to them. These sports usually do not exceed the major ones such as track and field, football and even basketball. Gymnastics, swimming, coxless pair and kayaking, or equestrian? Get the picture. Africans do not have the resources and wealth to enjoy all the extra-curricular activities that the US and Europe party over. Football, hey we are the defending Olympic champions (Nigeria), and we have another Gold come up (Cameroon).
Abdullahi Hajiabdi, USA

Africa would win more medals if sporting events indigenous to Africa were introduced to the Olympics

Kasirye Ssalongo, USA
Africa would win more medals if sporting events indigenous to Africa were introduced to the Olympics. For example camel racing takes place in many Africa countries. The whites have equestrian we Africans would have camel racing. Another event would be traditional African wrestling. We could also have canoeing using our African canoes and oars and rowing forward as opposed to backwards like the whites do in kayaking. How about dancing? We have a lot of traditional dances. This would compensate for our lack of gymnastics.
Kasirye Ssalongo, USA

Leaving alone some of the aquatic sports, all African countries can participate in the Summer Olympics competitions, in sports like gymnastics, cycling, high jumps, etc....To get to that level of competition individual governments should set up training facilities and encourage their citizens to participate. The IOC should also contribute its expertise and financial support to start with if the event is going to be called worldwide.
Elis Berhe, Ethiopia

The Olympics should be held in an African country so that they can build facilities for sports they do not participate in like swimming, gymnastics. Then, they would have places where they can practice those sports.
Ismael Hassan, Somaliland

Africa is really doing well at Olympics and especially football and athletics. We still expect Gold from Cameroon vs Spain in the football and 1,500 men's from Noah Ngeny of Kenya.
Leonard Mutua, Kenya

Africa's major challenge today is to get out of poverty and a burden of debt

Nebiyou, USA
Africa has a potential to provide competent athletes but that was not strengthened by practice. Africa's major challenge today is to get out of poverty and a burden of debt. Talking about Sport and winning only follow when there is strong economy to facilitate a sport arena. Competition is only made when two groups have got equal opportunity's to use their true talent and ability. We can't expect more medals from countries under poor economic condition these times.
Nebiyou, USA

Africa ought to be included and integrated in the globalisation process first and foremost. And along with that will come the recognition and transformation of the socio-economic conditions, which will provide the adequate conditions for African athletes to emerge and compete for medals at the Olympics.
Frank Welffens, Cote d'Ivoire/Belgium

When you look at the performance of the American and European athletes vis-à-vis that of the Africans, there is definitely an unequal exchange. Most African countries do not have the type of sports facilities that enhance performance nor do they have the resources to establish them. So what we see in most cases is no competition at all, giants and lilliputians. The IOC could at best assist these countries to set up facilities for training and improvement of abilities before we can talk of competition in its true sense.
Chiji Ojukwu, Cote D'Ivoire

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

26 Sep 00 | Football
Lions roar into final
25 Sep 00 | Athletics-Track
Gold for Mozambique
25 Sep 00 | Athletics-Track
Hero Haile holds on for gold
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other African stories