Cheered wildly by 40,000 Senegalese Saturday at Dakar, a South African track team made its first appearance in black Africa since the end of colonization 30 years ago.
President F.W. de Klerk's dismantling of apartheid has cleared the way for an end of the international isolation of South Africa, which will send a team to the Summer Olympics.
"It's great," said Elana Meyer, who outclassed a 3,000-meter field that included South African teammate Zola Budd-Pieterse and Susan Sirma of Kenya, third-place finisher in the world championships last year in Tokyo. "They were cheering so loud I couldn't even hear my lap times."
For 20 years South African athletes have been barred from competing abroad, and no team had competed in a black Africa nation since their European colonizers gave them independence in the early 1960s.
The crowd waved, cheered and whistled whenever the South African team won an event. South Africans won 23 of the 42 medals.
"We have arrived at the end of this tragedy," said Primo Nebiolo, head of the International Amateur Athletic Federation.