Kenya’s Record-Breaking Patrick Makau

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-4)
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Patrick Makau shows off his world record time in Berlin

Patrick Makau has reason to smile after successfully defending his Berlin Marathon title in record-breaking fashion. The 26-year-old Kenyan clocked 2:03:38, smashing Ethiopian star Haile Gebrselassie’s previous world record by 21 seconds. Haile set his record three years ago on the same Berlin course, regarded as one of the fastest on the international marathon circuit.

And Haile’s presence in this year’s race helped spur Makau on. The 38-year-old Ethiopian great looked ready to challenge Makau, with the two running with the lead pack through 25-kilometers. But at that point, Makau began to push the pace. Shortly after 35-kilometers, Haile stopped with breathing problems and withdrew from the race. Haile also dropped out of his previous marathon in New York last November, and it now raises questions about his readiness for next year’s London Olympics.

For his part, Patrick Makau says he would be very happy to represent Kenya at the 2012 Games in London. The women’s winner in Berlin, Florence Kiplagat, also has hopes of wearing Kenyan colors at the Olympics next year. Kenya swept the medals in the women’s marathon at the recent IAAF world championships in South Korea, and the results in Berlin show this proud distance running nation is ready to win more medals in the marathon at London 2012.

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.

Ghana’s Birdman Soars To New Heights In MLS

Posted September 20th, 2011 at 3:50 pm (UTC-4)
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Dominic Oduro

Ghanaian striker Dominic Oduro of the Chicago Fire says he got the nickname Birdman when he was based in Texas with his first Major League Soccer club, FC Dallas. In a phone interview with the Voice of America, the 26-year-old Oduro said the Dallas fans, so impressed with his speed on the pitch, said “he had wings and could fly on the field.”

The Birdman is soaring to new heights in his sixth MLS season. Through 28 matches, he has 10 goals, putting him two behind league leaders Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan. Oduro’s previous high in MLS was five goals. He told VOA it’s been a great season and he credits his success to gaining more experience and learning at each of his four MLS stops. Oduro has also played for the Houston Dynamo and he had a brief stint with the New York Red Bulls.

You’ll see Oduro’s speed on display in this video of a goal he scored earlier this season against the New England Revolution.

Before turning professional, Oduro played soccer at Prempeh College and the University of Ghana in his homeland, before transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. He likes to wear a wristband with the Ghanaian flag on it during matches. “I’m born and raised Ghanaian,” says Oduro, “and I love my country. I always want Ghana to be part of me and that’s why I have that wristband.”

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.

All Aboard! The Maputo Express @ 10th All Africa Games

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 2:28 pm (UTC-4)
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#11 Maria Mutola in action at All Africa Games

Mozambique’s national women’s football team lost both its matches and scored only one goal at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo, but the squad got a lot of attention because of its inspirational, 38-year-old captain Maria Mutola. The former 800-meter track star grew up playing soccer against boys, and she got a chance in her home city to show off her football skills again at the African sports festival.

In Mozambique’s 7-1 loss to Algeria, Mutola scored her team’s only goal just before the halftime break. Nicknamed The Maputo Express during her athletic career, Maria now lives in Johannesburg, and she says she’s been playing football the past few years in a South African women’s league.

Mozambique fielded a young and inexperienced women’s team in Maputo that was put together only a few months ago. Mutola says she was called in to bolster the team and she very much enjoyed the opportunity to compete in the biggest sporting event her country has hosted.

Maria Mutola is arguably Mozambique’s biggest sports star. Her athletics career spanned more than 20 years, during which she won three world outdoor titles and seven world indoor titles at 800-meters. She also competed in six Olympics, and at the 2000 Sydney Games became the first and only Mozambican to win an Olympic gold medal when she won the 800-meter final.

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.

Darren And Other South Africans Say, “GO SPRINGBOKS!”

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 3:14 pm (UTC-4)
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Sonny & Darren in Johannesburg

When I was in Johannesburg last year during the FIFA World Cup football tournament, I went to a coffee shop with my South African buddy Darren Taylor, a reporter for the Voice of America. While I sipped my dark roast, I quickly found out about the percolating popularity of South Africa’s national rugby team, nicknamed The Springboks.

The Springboks were playing an international match on television, and Darren and the other coffee shop patrons had their eyes glued to the action, cheering wildly whenever the South African team scored. I’m sure Darren and many South Africans will be cheering again on Sunday when the defending champion Springboks kick off their World Cup campaign against Wales in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Springboks are bidding for their third Rugby World Cup title. They beat England, 15-6, in the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, at the Stade de France just outside Paris. And in 1995, playing on home soil at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, the South African team made history by beating the All Blacks of New Zealand, 15-12 in extra time, for their first World Cup trophy.

Invictus movie poster

Following the big victory, South African President Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and cap, presented the Webb Ellis Cup to South African captain Francois Pienaar. Their celebration on the Ellis Park pitch is credited with helping unite a country that had been torn apart by racial tensions from the apartheid era. It also inspired the 2009 Clint Eastwood film, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as President Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.

John Smit, who captained the Springboks to the World Cup title in France four years ago, will again lead the team in New Zealand. The 33-year-old Smit has been criticized by fans and media in South Africa in advance of this World Cup for being badly out of form.  But rugged teammate Bakkies Botha is backing Smit. “He’s the best captain I’ve played under in leadership,” says Botha, “and as a person – he’s phenomenal.”

Botha and Smit are both playing in their third Rugby World Cup. They are part of an experienced South African squad that is bidding to become the first team to successfully defend its Rugby World Cup championship. If they lift the trophy on October 23 in Auckland, I’m sure Darren Taylor and many other South Africans will say once again, “GO SPRINGBOKS!”

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.

Vivian Cheruiyot Charges Toward 2012 Olympics

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 2:29 pm (UTC-4)
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Vivian Cheruiyot is looking ahead to next year’s London Olympics with a lot of confidence after a great performance at the recent world athletics championships in Daegu, South Korea. Cheruiyot, who celebrates her 28th birthday on September 11, swept the gold medals in the women’s 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in Daegu.

Her two gold medals generated headlines in her birthplace of Kenya as well as all over the world, with one describing her as “the biggest thing in distance running.”

In Daegu, Vivian showed off a big kick in successfully defending her world title in the 5000 meters. She ran the final lap in less than 59 seconds.

Vivian Cheruiyot says she first discovered her running talent when she was a young schoolgirl, running back and forth approximately five kilometers between her home and the classroom. She credits her husband, Moses Kiplagat, and her coach and manager, Ricky Simms, with her international athletic success.

In addition to her three world championship gold medals, Cheruiyot is also the reigning African and Commonwealth champion at 5000 meters. But she does not yet have an Olympic medal. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Cheruiyot finished fifth in the 5000. But that could change next year in London.

Simms describes Cheruiyot as “an amazing talent” who will be very tough to beat in the British capital.

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.

Mozambique Gets Ready For 10th All Africa Games

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 9:35 am (UTC-4)
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The 10th All Africa Games will officially open Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique. The quadrennial African sports festival was originally scheduled to be hosted by neighboring Zambia, but because of financial problems, the Zambians pulled out and the Mozambicans stepped in.

The Games, which go through September 18th, will feature competition in more than 20 sports, with one of the most popular expected to be the men’s football

Cameroon football fans

tournament. Cameroon has dominated All Africa Games football over the past 20 years, winning four of the five gold medals at stake. Cameroon is grouped with Uganda, Senegal and Ghana in the men’s soccer competition, while the other group features Egypt, South Africa, Madagascar and host Mozambique.

Estadio do Zimpeto

The 42,000-seat Estadio do Zimpeto will stage the soccer matches and will be the main stadium for the All Africa Games. The stadium was inaugurated a little more than four months ago and was built with funds from the Chinese government.

Some of the other sports that will be contested in Maputo

Sonny interviews Maria Mutola at 2001 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Edmonton, Canada

include athletics, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, volleyball and weightlifting. When I think of athletics and Mozambique, I think of Maria “The Maputo Express” Mutola, the now retired 800-meter star who during her great 21-year career competed in six Olympics and won the gold medal for Mozambique at the 2000 Sydney Games.

As a young girl, the 38-year-old Mutola excelled in football, and she’s planning to test her skills again on the soccer pitch. Mozambique officials have confirmed that Mutola will play for the host country’s women’s national football team during the All Africa Games.

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.

Rudisha Runs To First World Title

Posted August 30th, 2011 at 2:40 pm (UTC-4)
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Kenyan star David Rudisha traveled to South Korea with some big titles to his name, including those of 800-meter world record holder and 2010 IAAF Male Athlete of the Year. But Rudisha, whose parents were also track athletes, went to Asia knowing he had not yet been crowned a world champion or an Olympic champion. Rudisha achieved one of his major goals Tuesday, winning his first world title with a smooth, powerful run during which he led from nearly start to finish. Let’s check it out in this video:

Rudisha clocked 1:43.91 in the final in Daegu, almost three seconds off his world record, which he broke twice in 2010, once in Germany and then a week later in Italy. But his slower time in South Korea is to be expected. World championship races tend to be more tactical, with athletes pacing themselves after getting through often grueling qualifying heats.

In Daegu, Rudisha renewed his rivalry with Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, who won the silver medal (in 1:44.41), and who, like Rudisha, is 22 years old. “All the time when we’re together we have a great race,” said Rudisha, “pushing each other, which is also good for the fans because they like it when we race together. It’s good for us both to come here and win gold and silver, it was a good show and it was very exciting.”

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.

Montsho Waves Botswana’s Flag High In South Korea

Posted August 29th, 2011 at 2:39 pm (UTC-4)
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Amantle Montsho waves Botswana’s flag

Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports salute for Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, who set a national record of 49.56 seconds Monday in winning the gold medal in the women’s 400-meters at the world athletics championships in Daegu, South Korea. It marks the first world title for the 28-year-old Montsho, who is the reigning African and Commonwealth champion at the 400-meter distance. She’s also the first athlete ever from Botswana to win a medal at the world championships.

To make history for her southern African country, Montsho needed to hold off a fierce challenge from American star Allyson Felix, who has won the last three world titles at the 200-meter distance, and who was hoping to pull off a 200-400 double in Daegu. You can check out the race and the thrilling duel between Montsho and Felix in this video:

As Amantle Montsho said in the post-race interview, “I think everybody there (in Botswana) is very happy.” Botswana sent only three athletes to South Korea, and with Montsho bringing home the country’s first ever world championship medal, Daegu 2011 will surely be remembered as a very happy and successful competition by the country’s track fans and officials.

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 Sweeps Medals On Day One In Daegu

Posted August 27th, 2011 at 9:36 am (UTC-4)
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World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat

Kenya is off to a great start at the world athletics championships in South Korea, winning all six medals at stake on Saturday. Edna Kiplagat won the first gold medal awarded in Daegu, finishing first in the women’s marathon in 2:28:43. She was followed across the finish line by Kenyan teammates Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop.

The 31-year-old Kiplagat is coached by her husband, Gilbert Koech, who describes his wife as “a good fighter.” They have two children, and Kiplagat credits the support from her whole family with her athletic success.

Kenya achieved more world athletic success Saturday in the women’s 10,000 meters final, with Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego and Linet Masai winning the gold, silver and bronze. It’s been a great year for the 27-year-old Cheruiyot, who won another gold medal five months ago at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Spain. Her winning time of 30:48:98 on Saturday was a personal best.

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 and “The Beautiful Game”

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 1:39 pm (UTC-4)
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Soccer has been described as “The Beautiful Game,” and that’s also the name of a new documentary that will be screened for the first time on Saturday here in Washington. Director Victor Buhler and Producer Julian Cautherley will present the documentary at the National Museum of African Art, an appropriate venue for a project described as “a dynamic, positive and moving film about Africa.” The film was shot in seven African countries and features African football star Didier Drogba, the rugged striker for Chelsea and Ivory Coast, as well as African leaders such as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Let’s take a look at a preview of the documentary.

As Archbishop Tutu says in the documentary, football has a following larger than any one religion, and “almost every African is a supporter of one (football) team or another.” I saw that passion for “the beautiful game” last year when I traveled to Archbishop Tutu’s homeland of South Africa for coverage of the FIFA World Cup. And I plan to see it again on Saturday when I make the short trip to the National Museum of African Art to view this documentary, a film the director says is “for those who believe in the power of sport to bring people together.”

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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