May 13, 2016

GE Reports: This Olympic year, we’re celebrating African athletes

GE looks back at the five best Olympic performances from  African athletes this century.

This year, all roads lead to Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Games. General Electric has  been partners with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 2006 and have renewed its sponsorship contract for the Olympic Games in 2020.

 Sometimes you have to look back in order to move  forward. In that spirit, as athletes and teams are preparing to give nothing  but their best, GE looks back at the five best Olympic performances from  African athletes this century.

Abebe  Bikila, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, astonished the world as the  first athlete from sub-Saharan Africa to take gold in Rome in 1960 Olympic  marathon with a record time of 2:15:16.2. Incredibly, he was barefoot for the  entire event. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he again won the marathon in a new  Olympic record time of 2:12:11:2.4, beating his own record.

Haile Gebrselassie,  Ethiopia

Now retired, Haile Gebrselassie is a double Olympic  gold medallist. He won his first Olympic gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta and  his second one in 2000 in Sydney. Considered as one of the greatest distance  runners in history, Haile has broken 61 Ethiopian national records ranging  from 800 metres to the marathon and has set 27 world records.

Francoise  Mbango Etone, Cameroon

Triple jumper Francoise Mbango Etone became the  first athlete from Cameroon to win an Olympic gold, at the 2004 Athens  Olympics.  She made history again when  she became the first triple jumper to retain her Olympic title, when she set  a new Olympic record of 15.39m at Beijing in 2008. She set a new African  record in the process.

Ezekiel Kemboi,  Kenya

Ezekiel Kemboi won the 3000 metres steeplechase in  Athens in 2004 and again in London in 2012. His 3000m steeplechase best of  7:55.76 set at the World Championships in Monaco in 2011 places him as the  sixth fastest of all time. Ezekiel won the 3000 metres steeplechase at the  2009 World Championships, the 2011 World Championships, and the 2013 World  Championships. He is one of only three men to have won both Olympic and World  golds in the steeplechase event, along with Reuben Kosgei and Brimin  Kipruote. He is the only multiple gold medallist in both.

Penny Heyns, South Africa

Penelope “Penny” Heyns is the only woman in history  to have won both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events, at the 1996 Atlanta  Olympic Games. This makes her South Africa’s first post-apartheid gold medallist following the country’s re-admission to the Games in 1992. She is considered to be one of  the greatest female breaststroke swimmers of all time.