Europe and Africa Crown Champions in 2014
The second largest and second smallest continents on the planet are hosting their respective championships this week and there are a lot of great races yet to be run. The African Championships started on Sunday in Marrakech, Morocco and the European Championships took off yesterday.
Already storylines are developing as Nijel Amos of Botswana won yet another championship, cementing himself as the king of the 800m for the year, while Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare continues to add to her own medal collection in the sprints. Marrakech has not treated all favorites equally as Genzebe Dibaba, who was unstoppable earlier this year during the indoor season, lost to fellow Ethiopian Almaz Ayana.
While Nijel Amos was able to dominate both the Commonwealth games and the African Championships, his countryman, Isaac Makwala had to recover from a disappointing Commonwealth appearance to win his title at the African Championships. The African record holder in the 400m came to Morrocco and won each of his heats before dominating the final and setting a record for fastest 400m on the African continent.
While Zurich has only seen action for two days, already there has been historic performances on the track beginning with Jo Pavey’s age defying win at 10,000 meters. The 40-year-old left her younger competitors behind and added a European gold medal to her Commonwealth silver medal less than a year from when she had a child. She is a truly great runner who happened to have to run in the shadow of World Marathon Record Holder and fellow Brit Paula Radcliff, so to see her continue to excel is a treat so many years later.
Mo Farah completed the British sweep of European 10,000m titles today in his first major track race of the season. After dominating the 5,000m and 10,000m over the past few years, he was the clear favorite but he has had a series of difficulties in preparing for the track season from before his collapse at the New York City Half Marathon back in March up to recently visiting the hospital for stomach issues. Given the circumstances, the win is impressive. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the tougher competition of late season track meets if he chooses to compete on the track in the coming months.
While those of us on this side of the Pacific Ocean are eagerly awaiting the chance for American track stars to get back to what they do best, we can all still follow their competitors in Morocco and Switzerland.