Durban - Host nation South Africa won two
of the three titles on offer on the opening day of the Africa Athletics
Championships in Durban on Wednesday.
African women's hammer throw record-holder
Amy Sene of Senegal won her third continental title with a best of 68.35 metres
to beat defending champion Laetitia Bambara of Burkina Faso.
Bambara threw 68.12m for second place while
Tunisian Sarah Bensaad won the bronze medal with a throw of 62.53m.
South African distance runner Stephen
Mokoka picked up his maiden African title in the men's 10 000m, winning a
sprint finish against Kenyan Victor Kimitei.
"The sprint caught me off guard, but I
am happy that I worked on that and managed to win," Mokoka said.
"Normally, when I run a race I finish
the last kilometre in around 2:40 to 2:45 and today I went 2:35 so I am very
happy with that because there is a huge improvement in my kick."
For the majority of the 25-lap race the
lead group of about 10 athletes stuck together until Mokoka and Kimitei broke
Mokoka won the sprint finish by the
narrowest of margins, clocking 28:02.97 with Kimitei second in 28:03.18 and
Namakwe Nkhasi of Lesotho third in 28:06.33.
"This is my first medal at the African
champs - it is very important for my career as I beat Kenyans and Ethiopians in
the race," Mokoka said.
"Going into the home straight I was
just pumping and trying to pull the rope because when you go into the sprint
you use your arms higher."
South African Jaco Engelbrecht won the
men's shot put title with his final attempt of 20m relegating Franck Owaka of
Congo Brazzaville to second with 19.89m while Nigerian Stephen Mozia took the
bronze medal with 19.84m.
"I've beaten Franck consistently, but
over the last two years I haven't been able to do it so it is great to get that
monkey off my back," Engelbrecht said.
"This is my first African title and
I've dubbed myself 'mister silver' because at South African championships it
was silver, at the African Games I won bronze, and a silver at African champs.
"I had to show some serious big-match
temperament. It is a season's best and it is nice to hit that distance."
The stars from African athletics
powerhouses Kenya and Ethiopia skipped the championships to prepare for
national trials ahead of the Rio Olympic Games in August.