CAA training centers help African athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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NAIROBI, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) said Wednesday that its seven training centers across the continent are bearing fruits as Africa eyes more medals at the Tokyo Olympics in track and field competition.

CAA president Hamad Malboum Kalkaba on Wednesday also hinted on opening up the eighth training center, specifically for Portuguese speaking athletes, in either Cape Verde or Mozambique ahead of the Olympic Games in 2020.

Nairobi hosts one of the current operational seven centers at the Moi International Sports Center, Kasarani, for English-speaking African countries and Kalkaba feels it has served its purpose especially seeing the rise of elite runners from neighboring Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

"There was a necessity to train African athletes at home. We told ourselves that instead of our athletes going abroad to train, we could instead find centers on the continent and orient these athletes towards such institutions," Kalkaba said.

CAA has owned and operated seven centers to train athletes, coaches and officials.

These institutions, known as African Athletics Development centers, are scattered around the continent and are born of a desire to breed African talent on home soil.

Alongside Nairobi, CAA has other centers in Cairo, Egypt which serves 18 Arabic-speaking countries in both Africa and Asia, training coaches and officials as well as athletes in the throwing events.

Athletes with ambitions in combined events can train in Mauritius and there are other centers in Lome, Togo and Lusaka, Zambia.

The Port Harcourt center in Nigeria specializes in middle and long-distance running, hurdles, jumps and throws

Then there is the Dakar center in Senegal, which serves 25 federations including those in French-speaking Africa as well as Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, and Guinea Bissau.

Kalkaba said the seven centers came to fill a void in the grooming of athletes in Africa.

"There are two ways in the world to prepare athletes," he said,"There is the American system based on the universities, which have big means and the ability to train athletes at the highest level and there is the European system based on clubs, which also have the capacity to train athletes of very high level."

"In Africa there was none and that is how the idea of a third way was born - that of the centers. It was born in Morocco in the 1980s with the results that we know."

Reigning African 100m and 200m champion Marie-Josee Ta Lou is one of the talents that have seen their career sprout and grow from the centers.

Now CAA has launched experimental training units in some centers. This is a system where athletes are not internal to the center but where they benefit from supervision, infrastructure and help to allow them a better diet.

"These units have been established in Dakar, Cairo, Mauritius and Nairobi. They will be extended to other centers and regions in the near future," Kalkaba added.

It is the dream of Africa to keep pushing for better training on the continent for its top talent.

"The goal of everything we are doing now is to give African athletes the satisfaction of receiving training in Africa," said Kalkaba. "To go on and win titles out of the continent." Enditem

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