Zimbabwean Olympic Hopeful Ngoni Makusha

Posted December 20th, 2011 at 3:17 pm (UTC-4)
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Olympic champion swimmer Kirsty Coventry

Zimbabwe won four medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where star swimmer Kirsty Coventry splashed her way to a gold and three silver.

The 28-year-old Coventry, who is expected to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, also swam for Auburn University in Alabama, leading the school to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 2003 and 2004.

Now, another Zimbabwean athlete who won NCAA titles for a southern U.S. university has

Ngoni Makusha with Bowerman Award (Photo credit: United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association - USTFCCCA)

Olympic medal aspirations of his own. Ngoni Makusha recently capped an outstanding career at Florida State University by winning the Bowerman Award, the highest individual honor in U.S. collegiate track and field.

“This is awesome,” Makusha said in his acceptance speech. “If I didn’t get this opportunity (to go to school at Florida State), my life would be very different in Zimbabwe.”

The 24-year-old Makusha won six NCAA championships at Florida State – one in the 100-meter dash, one in the 4 x 100 meter relay and four in the long jump.

At this year’s NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, Makusha joined Olympic champions Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and DeHart Hubbard as the only men to win the 100-meter dash and the long jump at the same NCAA Championship meet. Let’s take a look at Makusha’s victory in the 100-meters, set on a wet track at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, where he clocked a NCAA record 9.89 seconds.

Ngoni Makusha gave up his final year of collegiate eligibility at Florida State so he could focus on training for the 2011 world championships in South Korea and the 2012 Olympics in London. At the world championships in Daegu, Makusha became the first Zimbabwean to medal at the IAAF event, leaping to a bronze in the long jump.

Looking ahead to the 2012 Games in London, Makusha would like nothing better than to join Kirsty Coventry on the medals podium for Zimbabwe. He is leaving Florida State with a degree in economics and the respect of fans, athletes and coaches.

“To see a young man grow up like he did – it’s doubly special for me, because of where he came from,” said Ken Harnden, a fellow Zimbabwean who is Florida State’s director of sprints, hurdles & relays. “Everything he’s done in his career was done in the right way. What everyone saw him do this year, was just a small part in his life to get to this point. He overcame so many great odds to get here, it makes me overjoyed.”

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Kenya’s Sports Personality of the Year: Vivian Cheruiyot

Posted December 15th, 2011 at 4:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Vivian Cheruiyot with her big trophy in Nairobi

Kenya has crowned Vivian Cheruiyot as its Sports Personality of the Year after she won one gold medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Spain and two more at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in South Korea.

At an awards ceremony in Nairobi, a trophy was presented to Cheruiyot that seemed almost as big as the 28-year-old Kenyan star, who has been nicknamed “Pocket Rocket” for her small size but powerful running talent.

In March, Vivian broke away on the final lap to win the gold medal in the senior women’s race at the World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. Later in the year, Cheruiyot swept the gold medals at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at the World Athletics Championships in

Tirunesh Dibaba

Daegu, South Korea.

She matched the achievement of Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, the reigning Olympic champion at the two distances, winning both events at the same world championships.

The spotlight will surely be on Vivian Cheruiyot at the 2012 Olympics in London, where she may very well try to duplicate Tirunesh’s double Olympic gold performance at Beijing 2008.

At the same awards gala in Nairobi, Patrick Makau was named Kenya’s Sportsman of the Year for his world record performance at the Berlin Marathon in September. Makau clocked 2:03:38, breaking the previous mark of Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie by 21 seconds.

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Give It Up For Gabon Football!

Posted December 12th, 2011 at 1:39 pm (UTC-4)
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Gabon's African Champion Under-23 Team

Gabon football has received a big boost ahead of co-hosting next month’s 28th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament with neighbor Equatorial Guinea.

The Gabonese are being described as the surprise team of the recently concluded African Under-23 Football Championship in Morocco.

Gabon upset host Morocco, 2-1, in the final in Marrakech, to win the trophy. This youth competition doubled as a qualifying event for next year’s Olympic men’s football tournament in London, so in addition to celebrating the victory over the Moroccans, the Gabonese smiled over earning their first-ever Olympic soccer berth.

Also advancing to London next year and the Olympic men’s football tournament are Morocco and the third-place finisher, Egypt, while the fourth-placed team, Senegal, goes into a play-off against an Asian side, with another Olympic berth at stake.

The victory over Morocco also marked Gabon’s first-ever African football title. Tijjani Lawal, writing from Kano, Nigeria, at the Sonny Side of Sports Facebook page, says, “Congratulations to Gabon for this wonderful achievement. Can the Gabonese senior team achieve such a feat at the Nations Cup next month? Only time will tell.”

The Nations Cup history books tell us Gabon’s best showing at Africa’s premier football tournament came in 1996, when the team reached the quarterfinals in South Africa. As we look ahead to next month’s African football jamboree, the Gabonese will surely have the crowd on their side for their first round matches in the capital, Libreville. And the under-23 team’s championship performance in Morocco could be a sign of bigger things to come.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Magical Messi: Another FIFA Ballon d’Or?

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 3:41 pm (UTC-4)
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Argentine football star Lionel Messi could be ending 2011 with another trophy and beginning the new year with yet  another one. World football’s governing body, FIFA, announced this week that the 24-year-old Messi is one of three finalists for its Ballon d’Or trophy, given to the best player of the year.

If the Barcelona magician is presented with the trophy January 9 at a FIFA awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland, it will mark a record-equaling third consecutive time he’s crowned the world’s best player. Brazil’s Ronaldo and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, both now retired, won the award three times.

And Messi might be lifting another trophy on December 18 in Yokohama, Japan, the venue for the FIFA Club World Cup final. The competition features the champion clubs from FIFA’s six continental federations, and Barcelona, the 2009 champion, is one of the favorites. Messi’s Barcelona teammate, Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, says this Barca squad is stronger than the 2009 edition.

For his part, Lionel Messi says the FIFA Club World Cup is an important tournament for Barcelona.  He says the club has some lovely memories from 2009 and he and his teammates can’t wait to celebrate again in the same style.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Cameroon’s Mbah a Moute: Valuable NBA Free Agent

Posted December 2nd, 2011 at 4:43 pm (UTC-4)
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December will be a busy month in the National Basketball Association, which will play a shortened 66-game regular season because of a recently concluded labor dispute between owners and players. Training camps open December 9 and the season officially tips off December 25.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Also December 9, free agents can sign with new clubs in the league, and one player who’s expected to get some offers is Cameroonian small forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who is currently with the Milwaukee Bucks. The 25-year-old Mbah a Moute has restricted free agent status, meaning the Bucks can match any offer and retain him.

“We appreciate Luc and what he’s done for us as an organization and what he stands for,” says Milwaukee general manager John Hammond. “We have every intention of bringing Luc back.” The 2.03 meter (6’8″) tall Mbah a Moute has averaged 6.7 points and 5.6 rebounds a game for the Bucks during his first three seasons in the NBA.

He is known for his defense and his ability to guard multiple positions on the court. Mbah a Moute is one of 13 players in the NBA with at least 400 rebounds, 60 steals and 25 blocked shots in each of the last three seasons. He’s also trying to develop the basketball talent in his home country. During the offseason, Mbah a Moute staged his second basketball camp for some of the top teenage players in Cameroon. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from his inaugural camp last year.

Commenting on his camps, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute says as a NBA player representing Cameroon, it was an obligation to help grow the sport and give kids a chance to get an education through sports.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Africa’s Olympic Football Hopes

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-4)
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While an African football team has never won the World Cup, the sport’s biggest prize, neighbors Nigeria and Cameroon can proudly claim Olympic gold medals in men’s soccer at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Nwankwo Kanu

The 1996 Nigerian Olympic team, captained by two-time African Footballer of the Year Nwanko Kanu, defeated Argentina, 3-2, in the final. Argentina, winner of the past two Olympic football titles, gained some revenge by beating Nigeria, 1-0, on a goal by Angel Di Maria in the 58th minute of the 2008 final in Beijing, China.

Millions of Nigerian soccer fans would love to see their team get another shot at an Olympic gold medal next year in London, but first the squad has to qualify. The inaugural African Under-23 Championship is currently taking place in Morocco. The eight-team competition is doubling as a qualifying event for the London Games.

The top-three African teams in Morocco will advance to the 2012 Olympics, while the fourth-place finisher goes into a playoff against an Asian side. In addition to Nigeria, the seven other teams competing are Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and host Morocco. The semifinals are scheduled for December 6 and December 7, and the final on December 10 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Demba Ba Bagging Goals For Newcastle United

Posted November 22nd, 2011 at 8:10 pm (UTC-4)
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One African footballer who is off to an excellent start this season in the English Premier League is 26-year-old Senegalese striker Demba Ba of Newcastle United.

Through 12 league matches, Ba has bagged eight goals for the Magpies of Newcastle, the most by any African player. Ba scored his first goals for the club on September 24, 2011, when he recorded a hat-trick against Blackburn Rovers in a 3-1 victory. Ba got another hat-trick in a 3-1 road victory over Stoke City.

With Demba Ba delivering goals, Newcastle is currently in fourth position after 12 matches. “I think a lot of people are surprised about what we’re doing,” says Ba. “When I signed here and saw the quality of the players we have, I’m not really surprised by how we’re playing.” Ba signed a three-year contract with Newcastle United on June 17, 2011. Last season, he was the leading scorer for West Ham United, another English club, with seven goals in 12 matches.

We could also see Demba Ba scoring goals for Senegal at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The Lions of Teranga from Senegal are bidding for their first Nations Cup crown. Their best showing came at the 2002 tournament in Mali, where they lost in the final to Cameroon. That same year, the Senegalese advanced to the quarterfinals at the World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

“I think this team has a great future ahead of her,” says Ba. “Senegal has many young talented players and can build a bright future and win a lot of titles. I would be very proud to bring the Africa Cup home to Senegal.”

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Liberia’s Darlington Nagbe Wins MLS Goal Of The Year Award

Posted November 20th, 2011 at 8:22 pm (UTC-4)
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Darlington Nagbe recently capped his first season in Major League Soccer by winning the MLS Goal of the Year prize. The 21-year-old Nagbe plays for the Portland Timbers and he is the son of Joe Nagbe, the former captain of Liberia’s national football team. Let’s check out the award-winning strike by the young Liberian player.

Darlington Nagbe’s father, Joe, made 97 international appearances for Liberia’s national team, “The Lone Star.” He also had an extensive club career that included stops in France, Greece and Switzerland. Darlington says his father was excited about the award and described it as one of the best goals he’s ever seen.

Darlington Nagbe’s “Goal of the Year” was one of two goals he scored in 28 appearances for the Timbers. Before joining Portland, Darlington played college soccer at the University of Akron in Ohio, and last year helped lead the school to its first ever national championship. Also in 2010, he won the Hermann Trophy as the U.S. men’s college soccer Player of the Year.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Spectacular Year For Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 8:53 pm (UTC-4)
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Geoffrey Mutai

I’m disappointed the Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai didn’t receive more consideration for the IAAF World Male Athlete of the Year award, which, for the third time in four years, was presented to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt November 12th.

In Spain March 20th, Mutai was part of the Kenyan men’s squad that won a team gold medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Less than a month later, Mutai traveled to Boston, where he ran the fastest marathon in history, clocking a blistering 2:03:02. However, because of Boston’s point-to-point and net downhill course, it was not recognized as a world record.

Still, Mutai’s run in Boston was a staggering achievement, and it deserves a look back now in these video highlights:

On November 6, running on a more difficult course in New York, Mutai showed his performance in Boston was no fluke by winning in 2:05:05. He broke the course record set by Tesfaye Jifar of Ethiopia in 2001 by more than two-and-a-half minutes. Mutai’s triumph also made him the first person to win the Boston and New York Marathons in the same year.

What does 2012 hold for Geoffrey Mutai? He would love to run for Kenya in the Olympics in London, but his country’s depth at the classic 42-kilometer distance is so great this year there are no guarantees he will be one of the three men selected for the marathon.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Harrison Barnes Aims For Big College Basketball Season

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 5:37 pm (UTC-4)
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ESPN and Sports Illustrated magazines both recently published U.S. college basketball preview issues, and both put North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes on their cover.

The 19-year-old from Ames, Iowa, is expected to be the centerpiece for a North Carolina team that is rated a strong contender to win its sixth national championship.

Last year, the 2.03 meters tall (6’8″) Barnes became the first freshman ever named a preseason first-team All-America. The high expectations negatively affected his play during his first few months with “The Tar Heels” of North Carolina, and Barnes struggled with his shot.

But by the end of the season, Barnes became much more confident on the court, averaging nearly 16 points and six rebounds a game, and he led “The Tar Heels” to the final eight in the NCAA championship tournament.

“Between the beginning and end of last year there were a lot of inconsistencies,” Barnes told ESPN. “Playing at the level where I finished, for a whole year, that’s what I’d like to shoot for.”

Some basketball analysts thought Barnes would be shooting for a professional career this season, opting for the National Basketball Association, like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and other college stars did after their freshman seasons. But with the NBA still embroiled in a labor dispute between owners and players, Barnes’s decision to return to North Carolina is looking like a smart one.

Perhaps his biggest fan is his mother, Shirley, who cheered for basketball great Michael Jordan during his playing days. Her son’s full name is even a tribute to Jordan: Harrison Bryce Jordan Barnes. In 1982, Jordan clinched North Carolina’s second national title with a dramatic jump shot in the closing seconds against Georgetown.

In 2012, 30 years after Jordan’s heroics, Harrison Barnes would like nothing better than to follow in the footsteps of his mother’s idol and help raise another championship banner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Then, like Jordan, I think we can look for Barnes to launch his own NBA career.

 

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

About

Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

The Sonny Side of Sports is broadcast Monday through Friday at 1630 and 1830 UTC/GMT. And on Fridays at 1730 UTC/GMT, Sonny has an expanded 30-minute sports show.

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