Three African nations were included in the top medal chart of the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, which took place in the Bahamas from July 18th to the 23rd. South Africa, Kenya, and Zambia finished among the top 15 nations that hauled a significant medal count. In fact, throughout the history of the Games, Kenyan and South African athletes have managed to collect the most hardware on behalf of the Continent. South Africa’s 18-medal haul in the Bahamas puts it closer to Australia and England, the two historical medal leaders of this international tournament. Swimming was the strongest discipline for the young South African athletes who earned eight gold, three silver, and four bronze medals. Some of these swimmers are expected to develop into worthy contenders to compete against their American counterparts in future Olympic Games.
Although Kenya’s total medal count was four, it should be mentioned that three were gold medals and one was silver. Not surprisingly, all Kenyan medals were earned in the long distance races of 1,500 and 3,000 meters. Quite a few records were set in the Bahamas: Erin Wallace of Scotland set a new record in the 1,500 meter race; she was closely followed by Viola Chemutai of Kenya, who took silver and was the race leader for a brief moment. Another record setter was Emmaculate Chepkirui of Kenya; she took gold in the 3,000 meter race. All the medals earned by Zambia in the Bahamas were gold; in fact, the first gold medal of the Games went to Simon Zulu in judo. Zambia also collected gold at the podium when Kennedy Luchembe won the 400 meter race.
The Commonwealth Youth Games are open to athletes between the ages of 14 and 18; since the year 2000, this competition has been held every four years. The first two editions of the Commonwealth Youth Games were hosted in Scotland and Australia; the last three competitions have taken place in small island nations for the purpose of stimulating local economies and to promote awareness about these smaller members of the Commonwealth. In 2021, Belfast is slated to host the Games. For the Bahamas, hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games this year was a special honor since the last time a similar competition took place in the Caribbean was more than 50 years ago in Jamaica. In recent years, the Bahamas has been seeking to achieve a higher profile in the international community and is working to be known for being much more than simply a cruise ship port and beach vacation destination.