There must be something in the water, or some super fruit the rest of the world doesn’t get, because Africa puts out a high number of award-winning professional athletes relative to the rest of the world. Here are 10 of Africa’s top athletes.
The 400-meter world champion represented her country, Botswana, in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and in 2010, won a gold metal at the Commonwealth Games, making her the first person from her country to do so. At the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Amantle went on to win the 400-meter sprint.
This Johannesburg golfer is part of an impressive list of professional South African golfers. But this ambitious player began his career at the age of just 18. He’ll forever be remembered for his remarkable two-stroke comeback win at Augusta in 2011, when he beat British sweetheart Roy McIlroy.
The Nigerian-born boxer is finally putting Africa on the map in a sport for which the continent has otherwise gone mostly unrecognized. Peters, aka “The Nightmare,” is the only African to be crowned a boxing heavyweight champion. He was named interim World Boxing Council Champion in 2007 after Oleg Maskev’s withdrawal. A year later, Peters won the official crown.
This South African is an incredible story of determination. The double amputee competed in the 2012 London Olympics with the aid of a carbon fiber prosthetic called cheetah flex-foot. Pistorious holds the record in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter sport class T44. The athlete also earned several Paralympics medals including gold medals from the 2004 and 2008 Paralympics.
This Ivorian was a key player on Barcelona’s amazing 2009 soccer team, helping it win an unprecedented trio of UEFA Champions League, Spanish La~Liga and Copa del Rey titles. In 2010, Toure became a member of the Man City revolution, a decision that gained Barcelona 24 million pounds. He also scored the winning goal in the FA Cup semi finals during his very first season and helped his team win its first league title in 44 years.
Footballer Hassan has broken an impressive number of international records. He’s played in eight different African Cup of Nations since he first played for the Pharaohs in 1995, scored a long-range effort in the 1998 finals against South Africa, pushing Egypt into winning its fourth title, and was named the Egyptian captain in 2006. The Egyptians succeeded in winning two more editions with Ahmed as captain.
Ethiopian long-distance runner Bekele is a legend. He holds the title of 5,000-meter and 1,000-meter World Champion plus he’s the defending Olympic Champion in both areas. Many regard Bekele as the best long-distance runner in history.
In 2009, the Cameroonian footballer moved to Inter Milan and took home a trio of awards: Seria A, Copa Italia and UEFA Champions League. Eto’o stunned fans when he took a spot with Russian side Anzhi Machakala, accepting a salary of 20-million euros a year after tax, making him the highest-paid sports professional. Eto’o has played in three World Cups and seven African Cup of Nations.
Ivorian footballer Drogba is known almost as well for his sports achievements as he is for his philanthropy. The athlete donated all three million pounds he received from an advertising deal to build a hospital in his country. Drogba helped Marseille reach the UEFA Cup finals in 2004, he helped the London club win three Premier League crowns and four FA Cup titles, and his final kick for the team earned it the title of European Champions in 2011.
Gebrselassie has won almost any long distance title you can list including two consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 1000-meter event. But more than an athlete, he’s a sports personality, having starred in a Hollywood movie documenting his rise to fame.