Namibia sprint sensations Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi will have to pull out all stops when they face the world’s best female sprinters in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 200m final today at 14h50.
The Namibians booked their spots in the final yesterday with sterling performances.
Masilingi (18) was first to qualify for the final when she finished in second place, clocking 22.40sec behind Jamaica’s Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran 22.13sec in semi-final 1.
Mboma (18) claimed her final berth when she too finished in second place, clocking 21.97sec behind defending champion, Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who timed 21.66sec in semi-final 2.
Mboma made additional history when she set a new world under-20 record two times yesterday – first slashing the old record of 22.18sec (set by American Allyson Felix in the 2004 Olympic in Athens) when she clocked 22.11sec in Heat 4 then breaking it again in the semi-final when she ran 21.97sec.
With this record, Mboma became the first African woman to run sub-22 seconds.
She told AFP after the semi-final race: “I liked this race. It was tough, but I’m happy (to set) the world junior record. I broke it in the morning (in the heats) and to do it the semi as well, it is crazy.”
Mboma also made mincemeat of the Namibian record which compatriot Masilingi set at 22.40sec moments earlier. Both ladies recorded new personal best times.
Thompson-Herah (29) is seeking to complete her second successive 100m/200m Olympic double, while Fraser-Pryce (34) would be trying to get the better of Thompson-Herah, who beat her in the 100m dash on
America’s Thomas Gabriel (24), who still has the world’s leading time of 21.62sec, is also out to claim gold in her first Olympics.
Also in the final is Ivorian sprinter Ta Lou Marie-Josee (32), who was ranked number 4 at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Other finalists are Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji (29), who is out to make a name for herself on the world stage, and Shaunae Miller-Uibo (27) of the Bahamas, who won gold in the 400m at the Rio Olympics.
Meanwhile, with such a formidable lineup, the World and Olympic record of 21.34sec set by America’s Joyner Florence on 29 September 1988 in Seoul, Korea, could come crashing down today.