TWO of the three Seychelles contingents for the
Eighth All-Africa Games slated for Abuja, Nigeria, left the country
Tuesday night (September 30 on board different flights.
The first left on British Airways and the
second on Air France. The third is expected to leave on October
Chef de mission Eric Arnephy, the managining
director of the National Sports Council, also left Tuesday night.
The athletes were seen off last night at the Pointe
Larue International Airport by Patrick Nanty, principal secretary for
Sports and Culture in the Ministry of Local Government, Sports and
A record-breaking 53 participating countries and
6,000 athletes are to compete in Abuja.
The Seychelles delegation for this year's Games is
74, including 53 sportsmen and women – five athletes, four badminton
players, five boxers, four cyclists, two judokas, three swimmers, 24
male and female volleyballers and seven male and female weightlifters.
The number of athletes for the Abuja Games is six
less than the total of 59 Seychelles sent to the seventh edition in
Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1999.
That year, Seychelles won eight medals – two silver
and six bronze.
The medallists were female weightlifter Sophia
Vandagne (a silver and two bronze in the 58-kg category), male swimmers
Benjamin Lo-Pinto (a silver in the 100-metre backstroke and two bronze
in the 200-metre backstroke and 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay), Kenny
Roberts (three bronze in the 200-metre individual medley, 400-metre
individual medley and 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay), Jean-Paul Adam (a
bronze in the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay) and Barnsley Albert (a
bronze in the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay).
The medal haul in Johannesburg, the best the
country had ever achieved in four previous participations in the Games
in Algeria (1978), Kenya (1987), Egypt (1991) and Zimbabwe (1995),
allowed Seychelles to finish in 22nd position on the medals tables. Only
35 out of the then record 51 participating countries won medals in
The other Seychelles medallists at past editions of
these multi-sports Games are former boxers Rival Cadeau (now Payet) (a
bronze in 1987 in Kenya and a silver in 1995 in Zimbabwe after losing to
Tunisian Marmouri Mohamed Salah in the 71-kg final), Roland Raforme
(three bronze in 1987 in Kenya, 1991 in Egypt and 1995 in Zimbabwe),
Robert Jean (a bronze in 1991 in Egypt) and former triple jumper Paul
Nioze (a silver in 1991 in Egypt with a distance of 16.50 metres).
Local athletes, who will be participating in eight
of the 22 sporting events at this year's Games which will run from
October 4 to 18, will surely have a tough task on their hands. They will
have to better the results of the last Games to help Seychelles take a
commanding place on the final medals table.
The biggest achievement for the athletes selected
to defend Seychelles' colours in the continent's biggest sporting event
should, no doubt, be to improve on Nioze's, Cadeau's, Vandagne's and
Lo-Pinto's silver medals.
Can Seychelles then win its first gold medal in