African Athletics Championship begin after delayed start

Marie-Josee Ta Lou sprints to victory Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Image

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the start of the event, the 21st edition of the African Athletics Championship started in Asaba, Nigeria on Wednesday.

The lead-up to the event was headlined by stranded athletes at the Lagos airport, delayed start times - shifted from 9:00-15:00 - and shoddy handling of the media accreditation, but the five-day championship eventually started with the 100m heats.

Ivory Coast dominated the sprints event on the opening day.

Favorite in the women's 100m, Marie-Josee Ta Lou, breezed past the rest of the field in a time of 11.24s to qualify for the semifinal, while defending men's champion Ben Youssef Meite emerged as the winner of Heat 1 in a time of 10.41s, while Arthur Cisse won Heat 2 in the men's 100m.

Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine was in a class of his own in Heat 4, the South African coasting home in a time of 10.29s, while compatriot Tebogo Mamatu won Heat 2 of the women's 100m in a time of 11.90s.

Nigeria's sprinters were expected to star, but had their work cut out to progress to the semifinals.

Joy Udo-Gabriel clocked 11.64s to win Heat 3, while the trio of Mercy Ntia-Obong (second), Enoch Adegoke (third) and Egwero Ogho-Oghene (third) qualified for the semifinal in the women's and men's 100m, respectively.

Local favorite Seye Ogunlewe finished second in his 100m Heat, behind Gilbert Hanuga, the Namibian powering home in a time of 10.40s.

Jemal Mekonnen won the first medal of the event when the Ethiopian claimed the men's 10,000m title.

At the conclusion of the 10000m final which was the last event of the day, the official opening ceremony, which ought to have come first but for organizational hitches, rounded up the day's event.