Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala became African men’s 100m champion after beating defending champion Akani Simbine of South African by just three thousandths of a second in Mauritius.
Both men were recorded as finishing the final in a time of 9.93 seconds – a new African Championships record – but Omanyala was awarded a time of 9.927 following a photo finish.
The 26-year-old is just the second Kenyan to become continental champion over the distance, emulating 1990 winner Joseph Gikonyo.
Gina Bass took the women’s 100m title in a new personal best of 11.06s to deliver The Gambia’s first African title, while Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan set a new Championships record in the women’s 100m hurdles, winning gold in 12.57s.
Winny Chebet and Purity Chepkirui provided a Kenyan one-two in the women’s 1500m and Beatrice Chebet won gold for the east African nation in the women’s 5,000m, with Caster Semenya finishing out of the medal places.
The South African two-time Olympic and three-time world champion over 800m has been barred from competing in her favourite event since 2018 because of World Athletics’ DSD rules regarding testosterone levels in female athletes.
Semenya finished sixth, over a minute off the winning time and more than 30 seconds shy of her personal best over the distance.
Earlier at the Cote d’Or Stadium on Thursday, Rose Yeboah of Ghana won the women’s high jump with a jump of 1.79m.
There were also two golds for Botswana, with Thalosang Tshireletso winning the men’s long jump and the country’s mixed 4x400m relay team beating Nigeria and Kenya.
Elsewhere, Werner Visser of South Africa won the men’s discus final and Algeria’s Amine Bouanani took gold in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Omanyala win ‘all about composure’
The men’s 100m final was billed as a showdown between Omanyala, the continental record holder with a time of 9.77, and South Africa’s Simbine, who won the African and Commonwealth titles in 2018.
There was drama from the beginning, with Namibian Gilbert Hainuca disqualified for a false start.
In the end, it took almost five minutes to separate Omanyala and Simbine and for the result to become official, breaking the previous men’s 100m record of 9.94, set by Nigeria’s Seun Ogunkoya in 1998.
“I never knew it was going to be hard like that,” Omanyala said.
“Akani is a great and experienced sprinter. Competing with him gave me motivation to work even harder and push even more.
“In my mind I thought at 90 metres I could be way ahead of the rest, but he was still with me. It was all about composure and just getting through the line,
“It is the first time I experienced waiting [looking] at the board for the results, but thank God the end result is what we wanted.”
Simbine was not totally convinced by the official result, but believes he is in good form heading into the World Championships in Oregon next month.
“I don’t know what happened as we came across the line at the same time,” the 28-year-old said.
“Looking at the photo I seem to be ahead, but the result says something else.
“I am happy I could run a season’s best and a good Championships. Just knowing my coach’s plan is on track, I am very happy.
“To know that I am starting my peak now going into the World Champs excites me as we know the training is going well.”