African Championships preview: Oborududu chases record 11th title

By Vinay Siwach

EL JADIDA, Morocco (May 13) -- Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) has spent around nine months off competition. A heartbreaking loss in Tokyo meant that she missed out on a medal at her second straight Games. But with African Championships and Commonwealth Games scheduled within three months, the World silver medalist is back for the continental tournament beginning next week in El Jadida.

As she is coming back after a break, the five-time African champion is jumping up to 59kg for the tournament. While she has nothing to prove at the competition, it will be a warm-up before she goes for her title defense at the Commonwealth Games in August.

Along with Adekuoroye, Nigeria will pin hopes on Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR) to guide the country to defend their team title. The Tokyo Olympic silver medalist will be looking for her 11th straight African title.

Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR)Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) will be eyeing her sixth African title. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Oborududu, unlike her younger compatriot Adekuoroye, wrestled at the World Championships in Oslo after the Olympics but lost early. But she began the 2022 season with a gold medal at the Ranking Series in Istanbul in February.

That victory included a win over world champion Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ) in the final. Oborududu had defeated her in the quarterfinal of the Tokyo Games as well.

Nigeria has entered nine wrestlers out of ten weight classes as it has missed the 62kg. It may prove tricky as its biggest challenger Tunisia has entries in all 10 weight categories.

It will be a close battle between the two nations for the title as Tokyo Olympians Sarra HAMDI (TUN), Siwar BOUSETA (TUN), Zaineb SGHAIER (TUN) and Rio bronze medalist Marwa AMRI (TUN) are leading the charge for their country. Also in the mix is young star Khadija JLASSI (TUN) at 65kg.

Adekouroye and Bouseta will clash head-on at 59kg and that may prove to be crucial in deciding which country finishes at the top.

Samar HAMZA (EGY)Samar HAMZA (EGY) will be the favorite to win the 76kg weight class. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Usually, at continental championships, freestyle and Greco-Roman styles highlight the competition but that is not the case for African Championships.

Apart from Nigeria and Tunisia, Egypt will also be banking on making a good run at the tournament.

Its first-ever world medalist and defending champion Samar HAMZA (EGY) will be competing at 76kg and at her fifth continental championships. Ever since she began competing at the senior level in 2016, she is yet to lose a bout.

So when wrestling begins Saturday, all eyes will be on these stars who are chasing continental glory before the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in September.

Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA)Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) will be making his senior African Championships debut. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

In freestyle and Greco-Roman, a few names stand out that fans need to follow.

Algeria is the favorite to defend their freestyle team title from 2020 and two-time African champion Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) is jumping up to 61kg and will be looking for his third title and first at the new weight.

At 57kg, Tokyo Olympian Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) will be eyeing his first African title after missing out on one in 2020 when he finished with a silver medal. His biggest challenge will be Salah KATEB (ALG) who is competing at the senior African Championships for the first time. He won the junior title in 2017.

Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) at 86kg will be a star attraction as the youngster chases his first gold at the tournament after missing out in 2020. The experience at the Tokyo Olympics will also be beneficial for him to negotiate the challenge of his opponents.

Junior world bronze medalist Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) will be the favorite to win the 97kg weight class but Abderrahmane BENACHA (ALG) will be a big name to overcome.

U23 world silver medalist from 2018 Youssif HEMIDA (EGY), who trains in the USA, will be the favorite to win the three-man 125kg bracket.

With Tokyo bronze medalist Mohamed EL SAYED (EGY) giving the tournament a miss, Egypt wrestler will have a challenging road if it wants to win the team title. The race may come down to Algeria and Tunisia as these two nations are the only ones with 10 wrestlers entered.

The U17 and U20 African Championships will also be held in El Jadida. The U17 tournament begins Tuesday, U20 begins Thursday and the senior will begin Saturday with women's and Greco-Roman. Freestyle will close out the tournament on Sunday.

Live action and highlights from all the three competitions will be on uww.org.


Egypt rides on four golds to win African Championships title

By Vinay Siwach

EL JADIDA, Morocco (May 22) -- For a second straight day, Egypt and Algeria were involved in a thrilling team title race at the African Championships.

Egypt, after winning the Greco-Roman team title Saturday by one point, pipped Algeria for the freestyle team title as the continental championships came to a close in El Jadida.

Egypt finished with 195 points to finish at the top while Algeria had 178 points. South Africa finished with 93 points to claim the third position.

The two nations were tied for gold medals at four apiece but wrestlers from Egypt reached the medal bout in all 10 weight classes while Algeria finished the opportunity at 57kg and had no entry in 125kg which hurt them the most.

Mostafa ELDERS (EGY)Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) won the 97kg gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

In a crucial gold medal bout, Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) defeated U20 world bronze medalist Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) 7-0 at 97kg despite starting as the underdog.

De Lange was expected to win his first gold at African Championships but Elders had different ideas. He began with a quick takedown and roll to lead 4-0. De Lange went for Elders' leg on multiple occasions but could not finish a single move. The Egypt wrestler led 5-0 at the break.

Elders shifted to defense in the second period and De Lange found it extremely difficult to score. He was for fleeing during a stepout which gave a tiring Elders two more points. He managed to play out the remaining time on the clock to seal the team title for Egypt.

In another high-stake final, Tokyo Olympian Amr Reda RAMADAN (EGY) clinched his second African title by winning the gold medal at 74kg. In a bout he was expected to win comfortably, Ramadan trailed junior African champion Adelkader IKKAL (ALG) 5-1 after two minutes. 

Ikkal tried to shoot for Ramadan's legs numerous times in the second period but ended up giving up points which proved to be his undoing. Ramadan scored eight straight points on counters to win 9-5.

At 125kg, Youssif HEMIDA (EGY) made a mockery of his competition in the nordic bracket. With only three wrestlers entered, Hemida scored 11-0 wins over Anas LAMKABBER (MAR) and Hamza RAHMANI (TUN) to clinch the gold medal.

The former U23 World silver medalist, who trains in the USA, showed the gulf in the class in wrestling as Lamkabber and Rahmani looked out of sorts on the mat.

The fourth gold for Egypt came at 57kg as Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) held off Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), 5-0 in the final. In a controlled bout, Mohamed got the first point for Welson's passivity to lead 1-0 at the break.

He scored a takedown in the second period and wait for the clock to expire while fending off Welson's attacks. He got another takedown at the end off a desperate attack by Welson.

For Algeria, Tokyo Olympian Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) won his first senior African gold medal with a 6-2 win over Mahmoud BADAWI (EGY). He scored all of his six points in the first period while giving up two in the second.

The 21-year-old continues to improve at the senior level after qualifying Algeria for the Tokyo Olympics last year. The top seed in El Jadida began the tournament with an 11-0 win before pinning Edward LESSING (RSA) in the semifinal.

Mohammed FARDJ (ALG)Mohammed FARDJ (ALG) defended his 92kg gold at the African Championships. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

Another Olympian who won the gold for Algeria was Mohammed FARDJ (ALG). Unlike Benferdjallah, Fardj displayed a dominating performance in the 92kg final against Imed KADDIDI (TUN). He won 11-0 to defend his title.

He outscored his opponents 34-0 over three bouts in what was a stunning performance throughout the day.

The fourth gold medal for Algeria was won by Chems FETAIRIA (ALG) who defeated Youssef AIT BOULAHRI (MAR), 13-3 in the 79kg final to win his first African title.

A trip and gut wrench gave Fetairia four points but Boulahri also got two for holding Fetairia in danger in the same sequence as the score read 4-3. But Fetairia launched a suplex in the first period for four before a match ending four-pointer in the second period.

79kg was also the weight where Mauritius won their first freestyle medal in 20 years. Jean STE MARIE (MRI), who lost to Boulahri 14-12 in the semifinal, defeated Donald MABUSELA (RSA), 12-2 in the bronze medal bout to end his country's 22-year wait for a freestyle medal.

The remaining two gold medals were captured by Guinea-Bissau as Mbunde CUMBA MBALI (GBS) claimed the 65kg title while Bacar NDUM (GBS) won the gold at 70kg by defeated Algerian opponents.

In the 65kg final, defending champion Cumba Mbali scored three points in the first period against Chouaib SAHRAOUI (ALG) and went into a shell. He was warned for passivity but that only cost him one point. He hung on for a 3-1 win and his third straight African Championships title.

Ndum was more dominant as he defeated Rami BRINIS (ALG), 9-0 in the 70kg final to become a first-time African champion.

Ndum's run in El Jadida included two technical superiority wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal before he maintained the clean slate in the final as well.

Another star from the country, Tokyo Olympian Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Welson in the 57kg semifinal. But he bounced back to claim the bronze medal with a 10-0 win over Rabby KILANDI (COD).

Freestyle Results

GOLD: Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) df. Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), 5-0 

BRONZE: Omar FAYE (SEN) df. Jakobo TAU (RSA), 18-11
BRONZE: Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) df. Rabby KILANDI (COD), 10-0

GOLD: Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG) df. Shehabeldin MOHAMED (EGY), 3-0 

BRONZE: Sofiane EL KHAMER (MAR) df. Jordan Ngalula KABONGO (COD), 10-0
BRONZE: Awene DIATTA (SEN) df. Kenneth KOECH (KEN), 10-0 

GOLD: Mbunde CUMBA MBALI (GBS) df. Chouaib SAHRAOUI (ALG), 3-1

BRONZE: Yehia HAFEZ (EGY) df. Jason AFRIKANER (NAM), 4-3

GOLD: Bacar NDUM (GBS) df. Rami BRINIS (ALG), 9-0

BRONZE: Mohamed ZORGUI (TUN) df. Anthony WESLEY (CPV), 11-0
BRONZE: Said ELGAHSH (EGY) df. Guy LAGO (CIV), 2-1

GOLD: Amr HUSSEN (EGY) df. Abdelkader IKKAL (ALG), 9-5

BRONZE: Arno VAN ZIJL (RSA) df. Mamadou DIOUF (SEN), 2-0
BRONZE: Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) df. Brian OLOO (KEN), 10-0 

GOLD: Chems FETAIRIA (ALG) df. Youssef AIT BOULAHRI (MAR), 13-3

BRONZE: Jean STE MARIE (MRI) df. Donald MABUSELA (RSA), 12-2
BRONZE: Andy MUKENDI (COD) df. Karim ELDOBAY (EGY), 12-6


BRONZE: Ekerekeme AGIOMOR (NGR) df. Sabri MNASRIA (TUN), 9-0
BRONZE: Edward LESSING (RSA) df. Barthelemy TSHOSHA (COD), 8-1

GOLD: Mohammed FARDJ (ALG) df. Imed KADDIDI (TUN), 11-0

BRONZE: Machiel GROBLER (RSA) df. Timothee TOE (BUR), via forfeit
BRONZE: Noureldin HASSAN (EGY) df. Ahmed SEREHALI (MAR) , 10-0

GOLD: Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) df. Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) , 7-0

BRONZE: Ulrich MANOUAN (CIV) df. John FOLANE (BUR), via forfeit
BRONZE: Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) df. Abderrahmane BENACHA (ALG), 10-0


Key match: Youssif HEMIDA (EGY) df. Anas LAMKABBER (MAR), 11-0 (Round 2)