Africa's Olympic Medal Count

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English: Olympic medals revealed in Trafalgar Square, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the Olympics are over its time to celebrate Africa’s successes at London 2012. This year, we saw 10 African countries achieving medals. Overall, Africa’s medal count this year was 34,  a decrease from the 40 medals gained at the last Olympics in 2008.

Two countries, Botswana and Gabon, won their first ever medals this year. Africa’s medals were disproportionally in the category of  Track and Field. As expected Kenya and Ethiopia, dominated this category both amongst African countries and internationally.

They brought a total of 18 medals between the two countries for the continent. Kenya achieved 11 total medals in Track and field (compare this to Jamaica’s 12 medals in Track and  Field). Kenyan runner, David Rudisha also managed to break a world record in the 800m dash. Other notable achievements were South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius who made Olympic history this year by being the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics along side able bodied athletes. Zimbabwe was expected to win a medal this year but did not bring home any.

Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry,  who took the world by storm by winning multiple medals at the Beijing Olympics was one of the few hopeful athletes for that country. African swimmers though were well represented over all but only swimmers from Tunisia and South Africa earned medals in swimming events.  The youngest competitors in the Olympics were from Africa. The youngest being the thirteen-year-old swimmer from Togo, Adzo Kpossi. In the next age group, four out of the the seven fourteen-year-olds were from Africa. This included swimmer Joyce Tafatatha of Malawi, swimmer Nafissatou Moussa Adamou of Niger, swimmer Aurelie Fanchette of the Seychelles and fencing athlete Lea Melissa Moutossamy of Algeria.

This is  an affirmation that the young talent coming out of the continent are competing in more diversified sports. In addition to Track and Field African countries won medals in fencing, wrestling, swimming, canoeing, and rowing. The Nigerian basketball team qualified for the Olympics for the first time, having beat international Basketball powerhouses in order to qualify for a chance to compete. There team included Nigeria’s Diaspora that play professionally and at college level. Although they did not receive a medal, they won one out of four games at the Olympics.

A notable mention also needs to be made for the increasing number of athletes in the voluntary African Diaspora that have citizenship or Dual Citizenship in countries outside of their birth country that won medals for non-African countries. Their contributions to sports are also important for the continent although their efforts would be well appreciated on the continent. In order of the total number of medals, African nations awarded with Olympic medals at London 2012 include:

  1. Kenya, 11 medals (2 Gold, 4 Silver, 5 Bronze) – Track and Field.
  2. Ethiopia, 7 medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze) – Track and Field.
  3. South Africa,  6 medals (3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze) – Swimming, Rowing, Canoe Sprint, Track and Field.
  4. Tunisia, 3 medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze) – Swimming, Track and Field.
  5. Egypt, 2 medals (2 Silver) – Fencing, Wrestling.
  6. Algeria 1 medal (1 Gold) – Track and Field.
  7. Uganda 1 medal (1 Gold) – Track and Field.
  8. Botswana 1 medal (1 Silver) -Track and Field.
  9. Gabon 1 medal (1 Silver) – Track and Field
  10. Morocco 1 medal (1 Bronze) – Track and Field.

Overall, according to the medal count of all nations that participated (a count that considers the number of Gold medals first), the rankings were:

  1. South Africa #24
  2. Ethiopia #25
  3. Kenya # 28
  4. Tunisia #45
  5. Algeria #50
  6. Uganda #50
  7. Egypt #59
  8. Botswana #69
  9. Gabon #69
  10. Morocco #79.

South Africa is the leader within the continent in terms of the number of Gold medals it has received although Kenya has won the most total medals on the continent. In general, we have seen a number of gains in the past few years in Africa’s competitiveness at the Olympics. Congratulations to all those that represented Team Africa this year!

* A version of this article was published on

photo credit: cliff1066™

Sitinga is a scholar in Sociology and African Studies. She is blogger, researcher and analyst on African topics. She has worked worked in non-profit, healthcare, development, and education organizations. She is on the board of the Malawi Washington Association and Southern African Community USA. She has lived in Germany, South Africa, Malawi, and the United States. She enjoys a good book, watching international cinema, chess, board games, poetry, and of course, blogging. Topics of interest include socio-economic development, nation-branding, tourism, image, identity, and the global political economy and of course, Africa! Catch her blogging at (@africarebrand) and

On Twitter? @MsTingaK

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