Tokyo 2021: good start for African boxers, first medal in taekwondo

Cameroonian boxer Albert Mengue Ayissi (left) facing Eswatinian boxer Thabiso Dlamini, July 24, 2021. REUTERS - FRANK FRANKLIN II

Text by: Tom Rossi Follow |

Nicolas Bamba Follow

12 mins

The day after the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the African athletes involved experienced varying fortunes on Saturday.

In boxing, they took convincing first steps.

And the Tunisian Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi has gleaned a silver medal in taekwondo.

In other sports and disciplines, it was more complicated.


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Cameroonian Albert Mengue Ayissi

climbed to the round of 16 in the under 69 kilos (welterweight).

The 22-year-old boxer won his fight against Eswatinian Thabiso Dlamini after the referee stoppage on the third round.

He will face Irishman Aidan Walsh on Tuesday. 

Mauritian Merven Clair

, gold medalist at the 2019 African Games, and

Zambian Stephen Zimba

, also qualified for the next round thanks to their victory in points, respectively against Canadian Wyatt Sanford and Samoan Marion Faustino Ah Tong. 

Merven Clair will face Jordanian Zeyad Eishaih Hussein Eashash on Tuesday, while Stephen Zimba will face Russian Andrei Zamkovoi.  

Mauritian boxer Merven Clair, July 24, 2021 in Tokyo.


In the category of less than 91 kilos (heavyweight),

the Algerian Abdelhafid Benchabla

validated his ticket for the round of 16 by beating the Uzbek Sanjar Tursunov (4-1).

On Tuesday, he will face Russian Muslim Gadzhimagomedov. 

Disappointment on the other hand for the Kenyan Nicholas Okoth, beaten in the first round in the under 57 kilos (featherweight) by the Mongol Tsendbaatar Erdenebat (3-2).

At 38, the 2017 African amateur boxing champion yearned for much better.

Very little was played out as two out of five judges named him the winner.

In the same category, Moroccan Mohamed Hamout fell to Iranian Daniyal Shahbakhsh (5-0). 

Among women, in the category of less than 57 kilos (featherweight), the Congolese Marcelat Sakobi Matshu was eliminated from the start, in the round of 16, by the Philippine Nesthy Petecio (5-0).


Among women, in the category of less than 49 kilos, the Moroccan Oumaima El Bouchti, sharply beaten by the South Korean Sim (19-10), and the Egyptian Nour Abdel Salam, dominated by one point by the Turkish Yildirim (21-20), stop as soon as they enter the running. 

On the men's side, Tunisian

Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi

won the silver medal after his narrow loss in the under 58 kilograms final against Italy's Vito Dell'Aquila (16-12).

He is the first medalist of the African continent in these Games, and the first Tunisian silver medalist since 1972.

Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi of #TUN wins #silver in the men's -58 kg #Taekwondo event in his first #Olympic appearance! #StrongerTogether |

@ Tokyo2020 |

@ WorldTaekwondo1

- Olympics (@Olympics) July 24, 2021


Spectacular match from the Zambian women

, opposed to China.

Quickly led 3-1, the Copper Queens turned the tide and led 4-3, to finally concede a draw rich in goals (4-4).

This is Zambia's first point in its Olympic history.

And the hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals still exist.


Good entry into contention for the

Egyptian men's team


The Pharaohs, reigning African champions, beat Portugal (37-31), their first opponent in the first round in group B. Egypt is second in its group before facing Monday against Denmark, Olympic champion in title.


In the 400m freestyle, only

the young Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui

, 18, qualified for the final scheduled for Sunday.

He achieved the eighth and last time of the series (3'45''68).

The Mozambican Igor Mogne, the Botswana James Freeman and the Egyptian Marwan Aly Elkamash remained at the dock.

In the 100m butterfly, the South African Erin Gallagher and the Egyptian Farida Osman will not see the semi-finals.

They finished last in their respective series.

In the 100m breaststroke, the Malian Sébastien Kouma, the Sudanese Abobakr Abass and the South African Michael Houlie could not qualify for the semi-finals.

Their journey stops as soon as the series.


Eritrean Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier

finished 50th in the race, 10'12 behind Ecuadorian Olympic champion Richard Carapaz.

South African Stefan de Bob took 52nd place and Eyrthrean Merhawi Kudus finished 56th.

South Africans Ryan Gibbons and Nicholas Dlamini, Algerians Hamza Mansouri and Azzedine Lagab, Burkinabè Paul Daumont and Rwandan Moïse Mugisha did not finish the race.

Cyclists competing in the road race at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, July 24, 2021. Pool via REUTERS - Tim de Waele


The Egyptian Omar Mohammed and the Nigerian Uche Keke did not pass the first qualifying round (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, horizontal bar).


In the under 48 kg category, the two African representatives, Malawian Harriet Bonface and South African Geronay Michaela Whitebooi, were eliminated in the first round by Brazilian Chibana and Argentina Pareto. 


The Egyptian Maiar Sherif, 118th in the world, did not surprise in the first round against the Swedish Rebecca Peterson, 59th in the WTA.

The 25-year-old was beaten 7-5, 7-6.

Tunisian Ons Jabeur will enter the competition this Sunday against Spain's Suarez Navarro. 


In saber, the Algerian Arkam Bounabi was beaten by the Japanese Kaito Streets (15-9) in the first round.

In the 32nd finals, the Tunisian Fares Ferjani lost against the Italian Enrico Berrè (15-10), like the Egyptian Mohad Samer against the Georgian Sandro Bazdadze (15-10).

On the other hand, still with the saber,

the Egyptians Mohamed Amer and Ziad Elsissy

tamed the American Daryl Homert (15-11) and the Russian - under neutral banner - Veniamin Reshetnikov (15-13) respectively in the round of 16.

The next turn was fatal to them.

South Korean Sanguk Oh took out Mohamed Amer (15-9).

And after Mohab Samer, Sandro Bazdadze was the executioner of Ziad Elssisy (15-12).

In épée, on the women's side, Senegalese Ndeye Binta Diongue lost to Chinese Sheng Lin in épée in the first round (15-6).

In the same discipline, the Tunisian Sarra Besbes, she lost little against the Italian Federica Isola (14-12).


Mauritian Marie Hanitra Roilya Ranaivosoa

placed eleventh and last in the under 49 kg category, after lifting 73 kg in the snatch then 91 kg in the clean and jerk (164 kg in total).

The Chinese Zhihui Hou won the gold medal with a total of 210 kilos, a new Olympic record.

Three other competitors failed to rank (failures in the snatch or the clean and jerk).

Mauritian weightlifter Marie Hanitra Roilya Ranaivosoa on July 24, 2021 during the Tokyo Olympics.



In the men's draw, it's a zero point on Saturday. Togolese

Kokou Dodji Fanny

and Senegalese

Ibrahima Diaw

fell in the first round, respectively against Croatian Andrej Gacina and Singaporean Zhe Yu Clarence Chew. Tunisian Adam Hmam was no more successful against Ukrainian Lei Kou. Finally, the Nigerian Olajide Omotayo was beaten by the Portuguese Tiago Apolonia, and the Algerian Larbi Bouriah could not do anything against the Hungarian Bence Majoros.

In the women's



the Nigerian Offiong Edem

saved the honor by taking out the Hungarian Dora Madarasz (4 sets to 1).

The Egyptian Yousra Helmy stops in the first round, beaten by the French Jia Nan Yuan (4 sets 0).

Tunisian Fadwa Garci, Nigerian Olufunke Oshonaike and Cameroonian Sarah Hanffou were also ruled out in the preliminary round.

In mixed doubles, the only African pair in contention, bringing together the Egyptians Omar Assar and Dina Meshreff, was released in the first round by the South Koreans Sangsu Lee and Jihee Jeon (4-1).


The Tunisian men's team were unable to worry defending Olympic champions Brazil in the Group B opener at Ariake Arena (25-22, 25-20, 25-15).

A defeat far from crippling for the Tunisians who will have to finish among the top four of their group of six to see the quarter-finals.

The double African champions will play their second match against the France team on Monday.


The Egyptian Alzahraa Shaban and the Algerian Houda Chaabi failed to qualify for the final in the rifle shooting at 10 meters.

They placed 38 and 39th out of 50 in qualifying.

Only the first eight got their ticket to the final won by the Chinese Qian Yang, the first gold medalist of these Games. 

In the men, with the pistol at 10 meters, the Egyptian Samy Abdel Razek and the Tunisian Ala Alothmani finished 31st and 34th of the qualifications.

The final was won by Iranian Javad Foroughi. 


In the mixed team event, Tunisia (Mohamed Hammed, Rihab Elwalid) and Egypt (Youssof Tolba, Amal Adam) finished in the last two places of qualifying.


Bad luck for the South African selections.

The men lost their first playoff game (Group B) to Great Britain 3-1.

The women were beaten by the Irish (2-0) in Group A. Next match for the men's team: the Netherlands on Sunday.

South Africans will challenge Great Britain on Monday July 26.

South African Quanita Bobbs (right) in the match against Ireland on July 24, 2021. AP - John Minchillo


The South African women's team lost heavily against Spain for the first match in its history at the Olympic Games (4-29).

After the reigning vice-world champions, the South Africans will face more affordable Canadian women on Wednesday.

They will have to finish in the top four of their group of five to get their ticket to the quarter-finals.


In single sculls, the Moroccan Sarah Fraincart, the Nigerian Esther Toko, the Ugandan Kathleen Noble, the Togolese Claire Ayivon and the Sudanese Esraa Khogali did not make the round of repechage.

In the quarter-finals, Sunday July 25,

Namibian Maike Diekmann

will be the only African representative.

She qualified in the playoffs on Friday.

Still on the single scull, on the men's side, the Ivorian Franck N'Dri and the Beninese Privl Hinkati did not get through the repechage round either, unlike the

Zimbabwean Peter Purcell-Gilpin


He will be present in the quarterfinals on Sunday, like the

Egyptian Abdelkhalek Elbana

, who qualified directly in the qualifiers played on Friday.

In men's two, South Africans Luc Daffarn and Jake Green finished last in their qualifying series and will play in the repechage on Sunday.

Same scenario for Tunisians Nour Elhouda Ettaieb and Khadija Krimi in a lightweight female pair, for Algerians Kamel Aït Daoud and Sid Ali Boudina in a lightweight male pair, and for South Africans Lawrence Brittain, Kyle Schoonbee, John Smith and Sandro Torrente in coxless four.


In women's doubles, the Egyptian Doha Hany and Hadia Hasny lost to the Japanese Mayu Mastumoto and Wakana Nagahara (2 sets to 0) in the preliminary round (group B).

No more success in mixed doubles for the Egyptian pair Adham Hatem Elgamal-Doha Hany against the Chinese pair Si Wei Zheng-Ya Qiong Huang (2 sets to 0) in the preliminary round (group A).

Nigerian men's double Godwin Olofua-Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori lost to Japanese Yuta Watanabe-Hiroyuki Endo (2 sets to 0) in the preliminary round (group B).


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