When Namibia’s sprint ace Christine Mboma clocked a jaw-dropping 48.54 seconds on her way to a sensational victory in the women’s 400m at the Irena Szewinska Memorial on Wednesday night in Bydgoszcz, Poland, she did not only win the race in astounding fashion but the 18-year-old budding talent essentially killed four birds with one stone.
Mboma’s winning time of 48.54 seconds in Bydgoszcz earned her a place in the world’s athletics books as her time became the seventh fastest time ever in history in the 400m event and became the first U/20 athlete to break the 49 seconds barrier.
Not only that, her time also saw her improve her previous record time of 49.22 seconds set earlier this year. Wednesday’s time of 48.54 seconds also became the new African and Namibian records and now equally stands as her new personal best (PB).
As has become her hallmark, the malleable Mboma was unstoppable and determined to send a strong warning to all potential rivals ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, slated for Japan from 23 July until 8 August.
The lighting-fast Namibian crushed and embarrassed an entire field of seemingly hapless opponents, which included Poland’s European champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic, storming to victory in an awe-inspiring time of 48.54 seconds – leaving incredulous spectators in deafening silence and disbelieve.
Swiety-Ersetic finished distant second place with her time of 51.91 seconds, while Portugal’s Cátia Azevedo took third place in 52.03 seconds.
Heading into this month’s Olympic Games, Mboma and her ‘partner in crime’ Beatrice Masilingi’s chances carving themselves on the podiums at the upcoming Olympic this week also received an inadvertent boost following the two-year ban of Bahrain’s 400m world champion Salwa Eid Naser.
Naser is set to miss the Tokyo Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned a ruling that had cleared her on a technicality for doping tests she missed. CAS reversed an independent tribunal’s October 2020 decision that at the time had cleared the 23-year-old to compete in this month’s Olympics. The ban will last until 2023.
The World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal had ruled in October last that Naser had not committed an anti-doping violation related to a filing failure and missed tests between March 2019 and January 2020.
In 2019, the world took notice of Naser when ran a remarkable 48.14 seconds to win the 400m race at the World Championships, becoming the youngest ever and also first Asian woman to win the event at the World Championships. Her 2019 winning time still ranks her third on the all-time list, behind only Germany’s Marita Koch (47.60 seconds in 1985) and Czech’s Jarmila Kratochvílová (47.99 seconds in 1983).
Before the CAS decision, Naser along with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas were among the top favourites to dominate proceedings in Tokyo, but Naser’s ban has now thrown the net wide for all to battle it out for top honours in Japan – especially in the 200m and 400m events.
Amidst the doubts on the global stage, Mboma and Masilingi are here and they have arrived and continue to stamp their authority. The world is finally noticing the unmatched prowess of the two Namibian sprint sensations and from here to Tokyo, their coach Henk Botha has assured all that it will only get bigger and better.