Botswana ecstatic over first African Open gold medal
It was a legendary African Open this weekend for Botswana. Although Algeria was clearly the best nation at the African Open in Yaounde this weekend with 8 gold medals, there was lots more to celebrate for other less typically strong judo nations.
Despite the dominance of Algeria that generally doesn't leave much space for the other countries on the medal podium, there was still enough to allow Botswana to claim its first ever gold medal at a World Cup, an Olympic Qualification event for the African nation. Never has the small judo nation captured a medal at a World Cup, but on Saturday, Gavin Mogopa became the first athlete to take gold.
In his weight class U66kg, the 22-year old Mogopa, who participated at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, defeated Kevin Loforte (MOZ) in the final. In Yaounde in Cameroon 118 athletes fought for the medals. Although Algeria claimed 8 gold medals, home nation Cameroon took 19 medals including two titles for women U70kg by Ayuk Otay Arrey Sophina and +78kg by Hortence Vanessa Mballa Atangana, who last week also won her first ever World Tour medal in the Hague. Africa is on the move. Senegal heavyweight Mbagnick Ndiaye was the only athlete to defend last year’s title successfully. Vlad Visan (ROU) was the only European winner in Yaounde with gold U81kg.
U100kg Lyes Bouyacoub (35) was the oldest winner of the event. Young Algerian lightweight Hadjer Mecerem won gold U48kg with her 18 years of age. The logical guess for next country to claim its first ever gold should be Mozambique, a country that has won silver medal three times, but never in its history won gold. The epic final U66kg was contested between the two countries without a gold medal to their name, and won by Botswana. World Cups are held in African since 2010, since last year the international tournament of Yaounde has the African Open status.
Tunisia (34) and Algeria (31) have won the most World Cup gold medals in history followed by Cameroon (11) and Senegal (11).