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Algeria wins first gold on its way to dare African mighty nations
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11:27, July 13, 2007

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Algerian judoka Rachida Ouerdane overran Gisele Mendy of Senegal on Thursday afternoon and brought the first gold medal for the host country of the ninth All-Africa Games, which was opened on Wednesday night.

Ouerdane''s gold medal marked the beginning of an Algerian attempt to use its home advantage to challenge the might of three leading African nations at the quadrennial continent games, namely South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.

Ouerdane, inundated by cheers and claps from home supporters, defeated Mendy by ippon in the third minute.

Yet Ouerdane''s gold medal was also the only one for the host nation, which certainly dealt a blow to Algeria''s hope of making a good first-day performance. A total of 12 gold medals were produced during the first-day competition, with six from judo and the other six from swimming.

Another Algerian judoka Mohamed Bouaichaoui, an African champion tipped to win the men''s over 100-kg class, was surprisingly defeated in a short time after a controversial rule from the referee.

Bouaichaoui was ruled committing a foul and ejected from the final by the referee because he was seen ramming his head into his rival''s face. Anis Chedly from Tunisia was declared as the gold medalist.

The home fighter refused to leave the court to protest the result, which was supported by loud hisses and clamors from home crowd. The accident forced the games to suspend for over 30 minutes.

The All-Africa Games is a regional multi-sports event held every four years, one year before the Olympic Games. The quadrennial event has not only come of age, but also has become an Olympic gathering for the entire continent.

The Algerians, whose nation had previously hosted the third edition of the All-Africa Games in 1978, were expecting that their country would host and win this time, just as what Nigeria did in 2003 and South Africa did in 1999.

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