NAPOLI – The curtain has finally fallen on a spectacular 30th edition of the FISU Summer Universiade in Napoli, Italy, in what will go down as an especially-memorable competition for the African countries.
Often competing in the shadows of their more fancied rivals from bigger nations in Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas, Africa as a whole can stand proud after Napoli 2019, with the continent registering a total of 26 medals altogether.
This is the most ever reached at a Summer Universiade, beating their previous best total of 22 medals earned at Summer Universiade 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia exactly a decade ago.
Leading the way was the continent’s biggest delegation South Africa, who managed to surpass their initial eight-medal target in some style as they ended the Games with 18 medals in total – a personal high as well, beating their previous best tally of 14 medals won at the Kazan 2013 Summer Universiade.
South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker winning gold in the 200m Breaststroke. This victorious swim came in addition to the gold she won in the 100m breaststroke two days earlier.
Of South Africa’s 18 medals, six of them were gold, with five of those earned in the swimming pool: flag-bearer Tatjana Schoenmaker touched the wall first in the 100m and 200m breaststroke; Tayla Lovemore summited the podium in both the 50m and 100m butterfly while Zane Waddell claimed gold in the 50m backstroke.
The nation’s last gold medal came on the track as Milton Kekana ran fastest in the men’s 10,000m final, as compatriot Adriaan Wildshutt claimed bronze in the same event.
#TeamSA19 has officially taken the 10th spot overall in the 30th Summer Universiade. Congratulations goes out to all Teams and staff members🙏👏😎🎉#Napoli2019 #ToBeUnique@fasuafrica @SA_NLC @CucsaRegion5@Napoli2019_ita pic.twitter.com/5McXTgToOo— #TeamSA (@USSAstudent) July 14, 2019
South Africa also featured twice on the podium in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final, as Rantso Mokopane claimed silver in a sprint finish while Ashley Smith finished just behind in third.
After finishing 44th in the overall medal table in Taipei two years ago, South Africa finished tenth in Napoli, cracking the top 10 for just the second time in the 13 Universiades in which they have competed since 1995, bettered only by their eighth-place finish in Kazan 2013.
Following behind South Africa as the second-best African side at this year’s Universiade was Morocco, where Mounaime Sassioui’s gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase secured an all-African podium in that event.
He, alongside Moad Zahafi’s silver in the men’s 800m and Soufiane Elasbi’s bronze in the men’s 74kg Taekwondo, ensured Morocco left Napoli with three medals more than they ended with in Taipei as they finished 32nd overall in the medal standings.
Algeria rounded off Africa’s top-three performers at Napoli 2019, with Mohamed Belbachir’s gold in the men’s 800m helping his nation finish 40th overall – seven spots higher than in 2017.
African News Agency (ANA)