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The 12th African Juniors’ Athletics Championships kicks off Thursday at the face-lifted Addis Ababa Stadium with more than 400 athletes from 37 countries taking part. Ethiopia is represented by 100 athletes, fifty each in men and women.
With Garad Plc, Ethio-telecom, Moha Soft Drinks, Tsehay Real State, and B.G.I, the 12th African Youth Championship sponsors, more than three million birr was raised for the championship and the event by all means one of the most colorful according to Confederation African Athletics high officials.
In the opening day of the continental big event, hosts Ethiopia managed to win its first gold medal in women’s 3,000 meters. Though Kenyan Cheriot appears to mar the magnificent home crowed, the Ethiopian duos took over at the final two laps with Medina Negussie taking gold with her compatriot snatching silver. In men’s 3,000 meters Ethiopian Wegene Sebsebe and Hailemariam Amare won silver and bronze respectively following behind the Kenyan athlete.
South Africa claims two gold medals in the opening evening out classing others in both Pole Vaulting and Discuss Throw. Ethiopia and Kenya in long and medium distance, South Africans and Nigerians in Sprint events, Egypt in Weight Lifting are much expected to dominate the medal table.
In the championship two years before held in Maurituis, it was only 229 athletes from 29 nations that took part with Nigeria collecting nine gold, seven silver and three bronze, a total of 19 medals to finish on top followed by 7 gold, 9 silver and 8 bronze, a total of 24 medals South Africa and Ethiopia third with 22 medals: seven gold, seven silver and eight bronze. The African Junior Athletics Championship is a biennial continental athletics event organized by the Confederation of African Athletics. First held in 1994, only athletes aged 19 or under are allowed to compete.