Ofili plans surprise gift for Nigerians, Akintola in high spirit for 200m showdowns
Two U.S.-based sprinters, Alaba Akintola and Favour Ofili, will be in action this evening to seek qualification tickets in the 200m male and female events.
Akintola entered the second round of the 200m event yesterday by finishing third in Heat Seven in 20.54 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, told The Guardian this morning at their Park Inn hotel, Radisson, that he is in high spirits and that he would do his best to pick up a ticket to the next round of the 200m event today.
“I am going to the stadium with a believe that anything can happen. It is a game for the best of the best, and I have prepared myself for the challenges here.”
The men’s 200m heat continues this evening at the National Athletics Stadium in Budapest
Another U.S.-based star, Nigeria’s 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, is confident of giving Nigerians a surprise gift today.
Ofili came fourth in her first round heat and her time, the second fastest she has run this outdoor season.
She 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 the final.
Ofili will face 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).
Performance Director of the AFN, Victor Okorie, says Ofili is a big-occasion athlete, adding she has the capacity to shock her challengers here in Budapest.
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