The people of the British capital of London have promised to make this year’s opening ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics one to remember. Showcasing Britain’s cultural and industrial evolution under the artistic direction of Danny Boyle, performers will entertain the crowd of 60,000 at Olympic Stadium. The opening ceremony commences the largest international sporting competition. 10,902 athletes from 204 countries will compete for honors and medals, and will aim to new world records in various sports.
There are, however, a select group of athletes who have already been honored with the privilege of bearing the flags of their countries. Africa.com takes a quick look at the athletes that some African countries have chosen to bear their respective nations’ flags.
Boxer Abdelhafid Benchabla of Algeria will bear his nation’s flag at the Parade of Nations at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Benchabla is a strong medal contender for his country. He first represented Algeria in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in the Light heavyweight division. Benchabla is currently the World Series Of Boxing Light heavyweight champion, after defeating Ludovic Groguhe of France. His current stan
ding places him as a likely medal winner, if not title winner, at this year’s Olympics.
Also parading flags are two judoka athletes, Antonia Moreira of Angola and Hesham Mesbah of Egypt. Coincidentally, both Moreira and Mesbah won gold at the 2004 African Judo Championships and silver at the same competition in 2005. Mesbah shows much promise for Egypt. He won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in the middleweight division. Moreira is looking for her first medal at this year’s Olympics. At the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, Moreira lost to Kim Ryon-Mi of North Korea in the quarterfinals.
There are a number of track and field athletes who will be carrying their home country’s flag. Sprinter Ruddy Zang Milama will be bearing the flag of Gabon. She won gold in the African Championships in the 100m race in Benin earlier this year and ran the 100m Gabon National Record twice this year in 11.03s. Like Milama, Liberian sprinter Phobay Kutu-Akoi, 25, will bear her country’s flag—she holds her country’s national record in the 100m sprints in a time of 11.37s. She has enjoyed a successful athletic career at St. John’s University in New York.
Mozambican 400m hurdler, Kurt Couto, is no newcomer to the Olympics. He represented Mozambique at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics and will carry the flag this year. The 27-year-old athlete ran his personal best this year in a time of 49.02s. Couto’s personal best is currently 2.24s behind current world record holder Kevin Young. Since his first Olympics appearance in 2004 his time has significantly improved, increasing his chances at winning a medal.
Another medal hopeful, Ilunga Mande Zatara, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be bearing his nation’s flag. Zatara has had an interesting journey leading up to this year’s Olympics. Zatara proved himself worthy of carrying the DRC’s flag despite financial challenges he faced at the beginning of this year; he won the 8.75km race in 29:15 in France.
We are looking forward to seeing African flags parade through the main Olympic stadium amid the spectacular performances in just a few hours.