The year 2015 has been provided African sports fans with numerous moments to be proud of, with many African Sporting highlights that stand out after reflecting on the year that was. From title winning exploits to pioneering moments in various sports, Africa can look back on a positive year from many aspects.
We gathered 12 highlights in African sport from the year 2015.
The Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire finally lived up to the promise of their ‘golden generation’ with a title winning Africa Cup of Nations at the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea at the beginning of the year. Cote D’Ivoire had a fantastic tournament, which culminated with a tense penalty shootout victory over the Black Stars of Ghana after a stalemate in normal time. The Elephants were worthy victors, banishing the failures of past Nations Cup tournaments.
South African businessman and former politician Tokyo Sexwale was in October approved to run in the February 2016 FIFA presidential elections following the suspension and subsequent eight-year ban for former president Sepp Blatter due to unethical conduct and a wider corruption investigation. Sexwale decided to run for president of world football’s governing body in an effort to clean up the organisation and repair the damage that has been done to its image.
This year saw the first ever NBA Africa game, which was held in Johannesburg in August. The game, which was the first of its kind on the African continent, was played to raise funds for South African charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Team World defeated Team Africa 101-97, with the likes of Kenneth Faried, Bradley Beal and Chris Paul representing Team World, while Gorgui Dieng and captain Luol Deng played for Team Africa.
The Springboks and the Proteas did South African sports fans proud this year, by progressing to the semi-finals of the Rugby and Cricket World Cups respectively, and coming close to the title game in both tournaments. Earlier in the year the 2015 Cricket World Cup took place in Australia and New Zealand, and SA progressed to the last four of the competition before losing to New Zealand. In the Rugby World Cup in October the Springboks ended in third place, after narrowly losing out 20-18 to eventual champions New Zealand in the semi-final.
Manchester City midfielder and Cote D’Ivoire national team captain Yaya Toure was included in a list of nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015, which is the award given to the best player in the world during the course of the year. The 23-man list was selected by members of the FIFA Football Committee and a group of experts from France Football magazine. The winner will be selected on January 11, 2016.
South African men’s tennis player Kevin Anderson reached the 10th position on the ATP ranking in October, recording his highest ever placing after a stellar year in which he moved up in the rankings from the 15th position he occupied in January. His efforts saw him reach the quarter-finals at the US Open for the first time in his career, while a superb Wimbledon fourth round match against eventual winner Novak Djokovic almost saw him defeat the Serbian to progress further.
African cycling team MTN-Qhubeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first African rider to earn the polka dot best climber’s jersey and only the third African ever to wear a leader’s jersey at the Tour de France on July 9, as the sixth stage of the cycling race came to a close. Eritrea-born Teklehaimanot negotiated the three category 4 climbs on the route, with one point available to the first rider over the top of each climb at the world’s most famous cycling race.
City of Cape Town officials received a formal presentation from the Cape Town Grand Prix South Africa group in June regarding the possibility of hosting a Formula One race in the Mother City. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted in an interview that he would be interested in seeing an F1 race return to South African shores in the next few years. Africa is currently the only continent that does not host a race on the F1 calendar, and this could change in the near future if a group called CapeTownGrandPrixSA realise their goal.
Despite cycling as a British rider, 2015 Tour de France winner Chris Froome was born in Kenya, and is celebrated as a Kenyan cyclist by many in Africa. At the end of the three-week race that took place earlier in the year, the Team Sky cyclist became the first British/Kenyan rider to win cycling’s greatest race twice when he crossed the finish line in Paris.
At the beginning of 2015 Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure was once again named the best African footballer for the year 2014, making it his fourth consecutive honour in this regard. His exploits brought him deserved individual recognition, and he is nominated once again for the 2015 award, which could extend his record to an incredible five in a row.
South African coastal city Durban was officially chosen as the host for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in September, and the decision is set to benefit the South African economy with over $1 billion expected to be injected into the country. The Kwazulu Natal city became the only host bidder for the multi-sports competition following the withdrawal of Canada’s Edmonton in February, due to financial concerns. The competition is set to take place from July 18-30, 2022, opening on the former South African president Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
In April the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament would be hosted by Gabon. The 2017 competition was originally scheduled to take place in Libya, but political turmoil in the country forced a change to the host nation. The country previously co-hosted the 2012 edition of the competition along with Equatorial Guinea, and they have now been given the opportunity to organise the tournament on their own.