World record holder, Tobi Amusan, yesterday, qualified for the final of the 100 metres hurdles at the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in dramatic style.
Although the reigning champion, running in Lane 7, started slowly, she was able to dip at the last minute to win her semifinal in 12.56 seconds. Amusan beat a strong cast, including America’s Masai Russell, Hungary’s Luca Kozak, Jamaica’s Ackera Nugent and Australia’s Celeste Mucci to reach the final.
Jamaica’s Nugent was second in 12.60 seconds, but Russell of U.S. did not finish the race as she stumbled on the second and third hurdles. With the qualification for her third straight final, the Ogun State-born Amusan will now be hoping for lightning to strike twice in today’s final, where she hopes to successfully defend the World title she won at Oregon, United States, last year.
Earlier, U.S.-based sprinter, Alaba Akintola, qualified for the second round of the 200m event by finishing third in Heat Seven in 20.45 seconds.
The Tennessee, U.S.-based sprinter, with a personal best time of 20.26 seconds and season’s best time of 20.43 seconds, made the cut following the disqualification of France’s Ryan Zeze in the race.
The men’s 200m heat continues today. Also successful, yesterday, was U.S.-based Favour Ofili, who picked her ticket for a second straight 200m semifinals after running 22.66 seconds in the first round to qualify as one of the six non-automatic qualifiers.
The Nigerian came fourth in her first round heat and her time, the second fastest she has run this outdoor season, topped the list of the six non-automatic qualifiers.
Ofili holds Nigeria’s 200m indoor record (22.11) and outdoor (21.96) and will need to run close to that to secure her place in the final. Last year, the 20-year-old exited the event at the semifinal stage after running 22.30 seconds to finish third.
In today’s semifinal, Ofili will have to go the extra mile to pick a final ticket, as she was handed a tough semifinal draw yesterday. She will need to run close to her 21.96 seconds lifetime best and Nigerian record to stand a chance of picking one of the two automatic tickets for tomorrow’s final.
Ofili has been drawn against defending champion, Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, who holds a 21.71 seconds personal season’s best, Marie-Jose Talou of Cote d’Ivoire, who has done 22.26 seconds this season and 100m champion, Shar Carri Richardson of the U.S., who set a 21.94 lifetime best this season.
Ofili is the sixth Nigerian athlete to compete in the semifinals of the event following the exploits of Mary Onyali (1987, 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2003), Fatimah Yusuf (1999), Mercy Nku (2003), Blessing Okagbare (2013 and 2019) and Rosemary Chukwuma (2022).