2023 is over.For 365 days, African athletes shone all over the world: on lawns, in rings, on tracks, on courts, on NBA floors… Many of them have recorded remarkable performances. Here are five of them.
Francis Ngannou, a setback worth twenty victories
For his first time in the ring, Francis Ngannou lost on points to champion Tyson Fury. A setback in the ring, but a great victory beyond. Yes, Francis Ngannou won a lot on October 28, 2023 in Riyadh. Financially, he pocketed around 10 million euros. The total of all his MMA winnings doesn’t reach that sum. He also earned respect by knocking out one of the greatest boxers in history.
The Cameroonian has also won the hearts of millions of people around the world who feel that the judges stole his victory. And even in sporting terms, Francis Ngannou has more than won. In his very first fight, he broke into the top 10 heavyweights of the WBC, the world’s most prestigious boxing organization, where Tyson Fury holds the belt. By way of example, Frenchman Tony Yoka, a former Olympic champion who also has a huge media machine at his disposal, is only 25th in this ranking. Finally, Ngannou won his fight against Dana White, head of the UFC, the world’s largest MMA organization, who felt that Francis’ venture into the ring was not viable.
Faith Kipyegon, the absolute queen of the middle distance
Soon she’ll stop competing only for the title of best athlete of the year.Faith Kipyegon will soon earn the right to be named among the greatest champions in the history of athletics. This year, the 29-year-old Cameroonian has extended her reign. Unbeatable in the 1500m, the Kenyan has added the 5000m to her reign. In 2023, she took two gold medals (1500 and 5000m) at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest and won the Diamond League in the 1500m (3rd year running). Also during the year, Kipyegon broke world records in the mile, 1500m and 5000m (his world record in this distance will be broken by Gudaf Tsegay in September).
Joel Embiid, MVP before turning his back on the continent
The presence of Joel Embiid was not unanimously welcomed by the Sport News Africa editorial team and for good reason: Joel Embiid, Cameroonian by birth and a big fan of Ndolé until he came of age, has decided to swap his Cameroonian nationality for that of the United States. He will wear the Dream Team jersey at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. A big loss for the continent. The Douala native was, in fact, at the top of his game. While injuries once again took their toll on him in the play-offs, The Process walked all over the NBA in the regular season. For the second time in a row, he finished as the league’s top scorer and after two winless podium finishes, the Sixers franchise-player was named NBA MVP 2023. The 2nd time in history that an African has received this distinction, after Hakeem Olajuwon.Like Embiid, the Nigerian also represented the USA at the Olympic Games.
Osimhen-Oshoala, a golden couple
Of course, they’re not a couple, but their “couple” at the 2023 Caf Awards in Marrakech was a sight to behold. Nigerian stars Asisat Oshoala and Victor Osimhen were voted best African male and female player of the year. For Oshoala, it may not have been her most successful season. But the Barcelona striker won her 6th “African Player of the Year” award, her fourth in a row after winning it all with her club Barcelona and scoring 21 goals in La Liga.
Her compatriot Osimhen helped Napoli pay a fitting tribute to Diego Maradona by winning the Italian championship 23 years on. He finished top scorer in Serie A with 26 goals.He was also named best player in the Italian championship.
Ons Jabeur one step away from a Grand Slam
She has raised African tennis to its highest level. Ons Jabeur is close to becoming the first African to win a tennis Grand Slam. The Tunisian has been on the verge of consecration for the past two years. After reaching the final at the US Open and Wimbledon in 2022, she repeated the feat at Wimbledon in 2023. Three Grand Slam finals lost so far.She did, however, win in Charleston and Ningbo.At 29, she is one of Africa’s top earners this year.