Our spotlight today would be beamed on ten (10) of those record-breaking memorable and nostalgic moments when Africans and indeed the rest of the world stood still in awe of the power of Africa.
7. The Moment Roger Milla Became the Oldest Player to Score at the World Cup
This is a moment popular in the history books. At the age of 42, Milla became the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history by scoring against Russia in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Milla was an influential member of the Cameroonian side that reached the quarter finals 4 years earlier at the Italia '90 World Cup. Milla’s longevity proved to be a common trait amongst Africans. Milla remains one of the greatest African footballers of all time in the books of many observers.
6. George Weah Winning The World’s Best Player Award In 1995
Liberian superstar and current President, George Weah created two iconic moments in 1995 by being named FIFA world player of the year and Ballon d’Or winner. Those were moments that rewarded his fine performances, helping the forward to become the first and only African footballer to be named the best player in the world.
For the Ballon d’or, George Weah beat out Bayern Munich’s Jurgen Klinsmann and Ajax’s Jari Litmanen to the award on December 24th 1995. For FIFA world player of the year, George Weah beat out Paolo Maldini and Jurgen Klinsmann to the award. That moment George Weah was called up to the podium to receive the prize as the best player in the world is one that every African footballer cherishes and dreams of also achieving.
5. South Africa Winning The Rugby World Cup in 1995
The 1995 Rugby world cup which was hosted and won by South Africa was a moment that put African sports on the world map. This was the first major sporting event to take place in South Africa following the end of apartheid.
It was a remarkable event that made South Africa a household name in the game, even as they won the rugby world cup again in 2019.
4. Chioma Ajunwa’s Long Jump Gold Medal, 1996
Chioma Ajunwa is the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. This she achieved the moment she leapt a record 7.12 meters at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, earning her a gold medal and making her the first individual gold medal winner for Nigeria at the Olympics. This moment served as an inspiration for many African athletes over the years.
At this same Olympics, the "Dream Team" U-23 side of Nigeria that had the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi and Nwankwo Kanu struck gold in the men's football events - the first ever for an African team, after they defeated the star studded Brazilian side by the golden goal rule.
3. South Africa Hosting The World Cup In 2010
This represents a collective win for all Africans. Before the 2010 World Cup, no world cup tournament had been held in Africa as a continent. The idea of an African country hosting football’s most prestigious tournament, became a rallying point for all African countries.
There were 94,000 people in attendance at Soccer City in Johannesburg during the opening ceremony as over a billion people world wide tuned in to follow the World cup on African soil. In all, hosting the World Cup brought a long lasting smile and pride to all Africans.
2. Samuel Peter's Famous Victory in the Ring
Samuel Okon Peter, fondly called "the Nigerian Nightmare" held the WBC heavyweight title in 2008, when he stopped Oleg Maskaev in six rounds. Some other boxers of Nigerian descent, most notably Anthony Joshua have continued to excel in the pugilist sport but Samuel Peter's victory was quite a nostalgic one at the time.
1. Tobi Amusan's 100m Hurdles World Record
At the just concluded Athletics World Championship in Oregon USA, Tobi Amusan became the first Nigerian ever to win gold at the World Athletics Championships after racing to a stunning world record time of 12.06s.
On a night of many firsts, Amusan became the first Nigerian athlete to ever set a World Record in any event. It was such a proud feat for Nigerians, and Africans at large.
With sports being one of our strongest exports as a continent, sport authorities (government and private) should begin to take purposeful actions towards encouraging our youths who are engaged in sports and support them with resources that would ensure they can compete at the highest levels and win more laurels for Africa.