The Alexander stadium in Birmingham will be rocking on the final day of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, partly to see World Record holder Oluwatobi Amusan look to defend her 100m Hurdles title, and maybe possibly dropping another fast time which would leave fans enthralled, those lucky enough to get a ticket for the final showdown.
Amusan is the toast of the Athletics world at the moment, particularly in her country Nigeria where she is now winning over new fans to the sport. It is testament to her achievement, that after her first race competing in the heats on Friday, she trended all-day on social media, with Nigerians now heavily invested each time she is running.
The world champion will race in the 100m Hurdles final around 10.25am on Sunday, when most Christian-Nigerians will be in church, however when they return from service, echoes of whatever achievement Amusan comes up with, will reverberate all day across social. Such is her pull now, and Nigerians are really warming up to her as their beacon in the sport
Competing in her heat on Friday, Amusan ran a solid 12.40s (+2.4) to win her heat. It might not be a legal Games Record, however, if she gets the perfect wind on Sunday, Amusan will undoubtedly take down the longstanding Brigitte Foster-Hylton’s GR of 12.65s.
The Jamaican hurdler won the title in 2006 at the Melbourne Games with that 12.65s, and 16 years later the record is still standing. Well, not when a World Record holder is in town; Amusan on her current form wouldn’t break much sweat to surpass that.
If Amusan gets a good start, and opens a big gap on the Jamaican duo of Megan Tapper and Danielle Williams, she would surely pull away to win yet another GOLD medal in a space of two weeks.
Zambia’s Muzala Samunkoga goes into the final of men’s 400m as an underdog, qualifying through the scruff. He might have run a blinder in the heats running a Personal Best of 44.89s, but he toiled hard to make it out from his heat, eating up a lot of ground to grab the second automatic spot.
The African champion will be in a lot of dilemma, not knowing whether to exert so much himself running in the 400m, or rather save up some in the tank for the 4x400m final in the evening. If he pulls out from the 400m to focus solely on the 4x400m, he would be disqualified for the relay. Focus and try to win a medal in the 400m flat, then he could be spent and not give everything. But Muzala is a super athlete, and will surely be in contention.
In the women’s category, Asimenye Simwaka will be making history for Malawi competing in the 400m final. She might not be a favourite to finish on podium, but being in this final is colossal for her. She has run a PB from this championships, and if she improves on that 51.70m, it would even be another milestone for her.
Three African countries will be competing in the men’s 4x100m final, and if the heats served as a guide on what to expect in that race, at least one or two of them will finish on the podium if they cleanly get the baton round. Ferdinand Omanyala showed why he is the Commonwealth 100m champion, breathing
down on Seye Ogunlewe in heat 2 of the 4x100m and anchoring his Kenya teammates to a new National Record of 38.92s.
Nigeria would have added Udodi Onwuzuruike in their team, but the 200m finalist wasn’t feeling too well on Saturday and is a major doubt for the final. Nigerian should maintain an unchanged quartet.
If the Nigerian women’s 4x100m team runs anything close to their African record of 42.22s, they should be able to get on the podium, and who knows maybe even challenge for gold. The quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma & Grace Nwokocha brought round the baton to win their heat over England, winning in a time of 42.57s, and they could still draft Amusan for the final.
A lot will rest on the shoulders of Wyclife Kinyamal going into the final of men’s 800m. The Kenyan male athletes lost a little bit of aura in the long distance race in Birmingham, losing the 1500m, 5000m & 10,000m. They were almost run out of the 3000m Steeplechase, but for Abraham Kibiwot who hung of dear life.
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Kinyamal goes into the final on Sunday knowing that he has to win, and if he needs any inspiration; what better direction to look, than his countrywoman Mary Moraa who came bumping to a win in the women’s 800m.
If there’s one field event to keep an eye on for the evening session, it will be the women’s Long Jump. Ese Brume is gunning for her second Commonwealth title since the first one she won in in Glasgow 8years.
On paper it should be a straightforward win for Brume who came into the field as the world Silver medallist, but upsets could happen and it might swing to another person. Ghana might actually have a medallist in Deborah Acquah.
The US based jumper went out to a distance of 6.85m in the qualifications, and she is one athlete who might actually trouble Brume, but the latter is always a big performer, and should be fine.