Dibaba half marathon debut was an individual highlight in what turned out to be a strong year for African athletics
How do we start to sum up this year?
We said goodbye to 2019 with high hopes that 2020 will be a year of great sporting moments - as the Olympic Games, the Nations Women's Africa Cup of Nations and the UEFA Men's Euro beckoned to us. .
But then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Every facet of life - including sport - has come to an unexpected end. And as the competitions were canceled, jobs were lost and wages reduced, it was women's sport that was particularly affected.
When measures were put in place to allow the return of certain elite sports, women's sport was often not considered sufficiently “elite”.
But despite these setbacks, these figures in African women's sport and women's sport have registered a few wins in 2020 - so let's dive into:
New Moroccan coach Reyland Pedros (center) won the FIFA Coach of the Year award in 2018
Despite the cancellation of the 2020 Women's Africa Cup of Nations due to Covid-19, funding has been made available to the 56 African member associations to help develop the game.
Football's governing body, Fifa, has sent a million dollars each to African federations specifically for women's football.
And the cancellation led to an unexpected upheaval in the management of women's football in Africa. The first African Women's Champions League has been announced, which will start in 2021.
National team football had some visibility again with the Southern African Football Association, COSAFA, still able to organize its annual women's tournament, which allowed South Africa and Tanzania to be respectively crowned champions at the senior and U17 levels. Meanwhile, friendlies and league football have returned to countries like Ghana, Morocco, Zambia and Nigeria under new Covid-19 protocols.
Perhaps the big news was that African teams were attracting some of the best coaches in women's football.
Nigeria signed US coach Randy Waldrum, head of the US Women's League club Houston Dash, while Morocco signed Reynald Pedros, who took Lyon twice to the UEFA Women's Champions League title. .
Meanwhile, Cameroon has created a fixed salary cap in women's football divisions, while South Sudan has announced plans to launch its first women's professional league in February 2021.
Jabeur (left) beat Wozniacki and looked ready for even better things - but Covid stepped in
There was real excitement at the Australian Open in January when Ons Jabeur became the first North African player to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since Moroccan Hicham Arazi at the same event in 2004.
She did so by beating former Denmark world number one Caroline Wozniacki in her last tennis match before retirement.
The 26-year-old also became the first African woman in a Grand Slam quarter-finals since South African Amanda Coetzer at the 2001 Australian Open.
While Covid-19 has certainly stopped the Tunisian from running, another African has made headlines in the tennis world for her open letter to one of the best players in the sport.
In May, Algerian Ines Ibbou was hailed as a “hero” by Venus Williams while earning the word “respect” from Nick Kyrgios, after posting a moving video addressed to world No.3 Dominic Thiem - the result of her opposition to the idea of a coronavirus relief fund for lower-ranking players, proposed by Novak Djokovic.
The Austrian had said that no lower-ranking player "will fight for survival" during the Covid-19 crisis, adding that some of them "were not living professionally" for him to contribute his money.
Reacting to this, the former ITF Junior champion said his words were “hurtful” - and the heartfelt message went viral, even Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune pledged to support the 21-year-old on Twitter.
The use of "Wavelight" technology that sets the pace has been the subject of strong criticism.
No Olympics, no problem - at least for African long-distance runners.
Kenyan road runner Peres Jepchirchir set two half marathon world records at the World Half Marathon Championship in Poland, breaking her own record set in 2016. She also became the champion of the Valencia Marathon, by setting a women's course record and moving to fifth place on the all-time standings. The 27-year-old has simply been the best this year.
In the same competition in Valencia, Ethiopian 1,500-meter star and record holder Genzebe Dibaba ran 65:18 to win his half-marathon debut.
Additionally, in October, Ethiopia's Letesenbet Gidey set a new 5,000-meter world record in 14: 06.62 during the Valencia World Record Day competition, breaking his compatriot's 12-year record. Tirunesh Dibaba.
As impressive as this glut of world records is, they have come in the midst of controversy - both for the new types of shoes being worn and, for Gidey, 22, for the use of Wave Light technology which indicates the pace runners must follow. at.
Cricket has proven to be extremely popular with young Rwandan women
Women's cricket in Africa has been hit hard, with a number of ODIs and T20Is canceled and postponed.
However, in August, the International Cricket Commission (ICC) singled out Rwanda for its "outstanding achievements" in the growth of women's football.
The Rwandan Cricket Association has won the 100% Cricket Participation of the Year program through its partnership with Cricket Builds Hope, a charity that uses cricket to bring social change to rural Rwanda.
”Women's cricket has actually developed much faster than men's cricket in Rwanda… a girl seeing her mother play cricket even though it is fun is automatically interested and now we have more daughters pursuing cricket at a very high level, ”Mary Maina, program director and former national team captain, told BBC Sport Africa.
In addition to the award, the ICC announced that the qualification process for the T20 Women's World Cup in South Africa in February 2023 will officially begin in 2021; Botswana will host the Africa rounds in October, with Cameroon, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe all set to compete.
Women also scored victories in football when two giants of the African football club, AS Vita of Congo and Simba FC of Tanzania, respectively appointed Bestine Kazidi and Barbara Gonzalez as president and CEO of the club respectively.
This is the first time in club history that women have been appointed to leadership positions.
Meanwhile, the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) has entrusted former international player Bochra Hajij with the presidency of the CAVB, the Moroccan becoming its first female president.
As the world learns to adjust to the new normal, women's sport in Africa aims to continue to thrive - provided it receives the right support.
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