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Nigeria’s Favour Ofili, Namibia’s Christine Mboma chase CWG 200m gold

Favour Ofili of Team Nigeria competes during the Women's 200m Semi-Finals on day eight of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 05, 2022 on the Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

If there’s one event that is guaranteed to raise the roofs at the sold-out Alexander stadium on Saturday, it will be the women’s 200m final when Nigeria’s Favour Ofili and Namibia’s Christine Mboma square up against each other, looking to win their first Commonwealth Games medal.

The last time both athletes met, it was Mboma who emerged triumphant in Kenya, winning the women’s 200m World Junior title. However, Ofili would feel she has a chance this time around, going into the final running much faster than Mboma after two rounds.

Ofili was the second fastest overall in the 200m semifinals on Friday, winning heat 1 after putting down a majestic run to cross the line in 22.63s (+1.9). Mboma lacked a bit of fluidity in her execution, but she’s always going to finish strongly, crossing the line 22.93s.

Both athletes are the only African women to run under 22s in the 200m, and although the weather conditions in Birmingham might not be the very best to produce fast times: Mboma and Ofili would really have to be at their best form to outwit the other.

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While Jamaica’s double Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah remains the favourite to win the Commonwealth Games double, it is not impossible for either Mboma or Ofili to claim a big scalp in that 200m final. They are more rested than the Jamaican who ran three 100m rounds to win GOLD on Wednesday.

Gambia’s Gina Bass will complete the African trio in the women’s 200m, running the race of her life in her semifinal heat to go through as one of the next fastest qualifiers. Bass has run a Season’s Best of 22.71s, and if she is to cause an upset in the final, she might have to run faster than her Personal Best of 22.53s.

Competing in his first 200m at a senior championship, Udodi Onwuzuruike will have to rekindle the semifinal form he displayed to win his heat in 20.59s. Onwuzurike showed glimpses of his 2021 form, coming out hard from the bend, and motoring away to an easy win.

The former U20 world champion will be sandwiched in between Ghana’s Joseph Amoah (lane 5) and the defending champion, Jereem Richards (lane 7). If Onwuzurike comes out of the bend before any one of them, he could upset the applecart and win the biggest race of his life so far.

Timothy Cheruiyot will have a chance to win his first Commonwealth Games title, but it won’t be an easy race for the former 1500m World Champion, who hasn’t really hit the sub 3mins:30s this season. He will be against his countryman, Abel Kipsang, but they will have the Scottish duo of Jake Wightman and Joshua Kerr for company.

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Meanwhile, weeks after losing his World title Morocco’s Soufianne El Bakkali, Conseslus Kipruto returns to action looking to successfully defend his Commonwealth Games title. Kipruto doesn’t like losing, and he is going into the 3000m Steeplechase final with the sole aim of winning.

This season, he has an SB of 8:08.76, and although he might not be looking at running very fast, he would surely excite the fans with some premium entertainment. If it goes to plan, we might be seeing a Kenyan 1-2-3 from this race. Abraham Kibiwot is the fastest in the field with 8:05.72, and Amos Serem has a PB 8:09.93. But nothing is assured in Steeplechase until you cross the line.

Mary Moraa goes into the women’s 800m final looking to continue her fairytale season. She won her first 800m global medal in Eugene, and will now be competing in her first Commonwealth Games final. There are a couple of home favourites to contend with though: Laura Muir & Keely Hodgkinson who would both have the home fans roaring them on. But if Moraa executes rightly, she should be in the mix.

Although Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo has had some days rest since winning the 10 000m Commonwealth title, it is left to be seen how refreshed he is going up against the much fresher Jacob Krop, who missed out on the GOLD medal in Eugene.

Krop is one of the fastest in the world this year, having run a PB of 12:46.79, but he will have to be at his supreme best to beat his fellow Kenyan athlete, Nicholas Kimeli who has a PB of 12:46.33.

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