Niger’s Issoufou Alfaga Abdoulrazak won his country’s second Olympic medal on Saturday as he clinched silver in the men’s over-80 kilogram taekwondo competition, boosting the number of medals won by African fighters at Rio to five in a sport typically dominated by Asian countries.
The 21-year-old, who defeated world champion Dmitry Shokin of Uzbekistan in the semi-finals, was beaten for gold by Radik Isaev of Azerbaijan on the final day of the sport’s competition at the Rio Games.
China’s Zheng Shuyin won gold in the women’s over 67 kg category on Saturday. Zhao Shuai won the men’s under 58 kg category earlier in the week.
South Korea, where the sport originated, topped the medal table with five, though it was the gold medal to Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cisse, Abdoulrazak’s silver and three bronzes to African fighters that were the talking point.
“I want to win for Africa,” said Abdoulrazak, whose medal is only the second for Niger after a 1972 boxing bronze.
He added that he had been inspired by Cisse’s stunning victory on Friday when the Ivorian clinched victory against Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad with a spin kick to the head in the last second of their gold-medal bout.
“That showed me,” Abdoulrazak said. “It is possible to win, even at the last moment.”
Cisse’s victory gave the Ivory Coast their second taekwondo medal of Friday, after a bronze for Ruth Gbagbi in the women’s under 67kg category.
The two other bronze medalists hailed from Egypt and Tunisia and the strong showing from African fighters energised a crowd in which small pockets of fans from the continent often rivalled the boisterous Brazilians.
Before the Rio Games, African fighters had won only three medals in total since taekwondo became a competitive Olympic sport in 2000.