The athletics event of the ongoing Commonwealth Games which begins Tuesday will include some freshly-minted world champions looking to affirm their new-found status, with the likes of Tobi Amusan, Jake Wightman, and Eleanor Patterson set to shine at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Although the Birmingham games have already seen some high-profile withdrawals, there is still plenty of top talent left to put up a show for athletics fans.
The quadrennial event also give athletes a shot at redemption and rising stars to get their first taste of global success…
Tobi Amusan in triple crown bid
Nigerian hurdles sensation Tobi Amusan will be among the big attractions on the track, where she will be looking to add a second Commonwealth Games crown to the world and African titles she won this year.
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Amusan sparkled at the recent World Athletics Championships, where she clinched a maiden global title in the 100m hurdles. The 25-year-old Nigerian also chopped eight hundredths off the previous world record in the semi-finals with a time of 12.12 seconds.
British record holder Cindy Sember and Jamaica’s Danielle Williams, who also featured in the final at the world championships, will be among Amusan’s biggest challengers.
Ese Brume looking to reclaim Long Jump gold medal
Olympic long jump bronze medallist and world championship runner-up, Ese Brume, is another strong gold-medal contender in Birmingham. The African record holder will be looking to add to the gold medal she won at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.The 26 year old Nigerian is yet to win another gold in any event since 2014, winning bronze at the Doha World Championships in 2019 and 2021 respectively and silver at the World indoor and outdoor championships in 2022.
The great British middle-distance onslaught
The great British middle-distance revival may be on full display in Birmingham, with some of the current crop of stars set to flex their muscle on home soil.
Newly crowned world 1500m champion and Scotsman Jake Wightman will be leading the charge following his spectacular win in Eugene, Oregon.
Wightman stunned some of the big names in the game, including the Olympic champion and the defending world champion, for the greatest victory of his career.
The 28-year-old ran the race of his life, relegating Norwegian Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen to second place.
Wightman will be looking to strike gold again in Birmingham and, in the process, upgrade the bronze he won four years ago.
In the women’s 1500m, Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir will fancy her chances after finishing third in the final at the world championships.
Australia will set its sights on podium dominance in the women’s high jump with world gold medallist and defending Commonwealth champion Eleanor Patterson leading the charge.
Patterson and compatriot Nicola Olyslagers will be looking for a repeat of Tokyo 2020, where the duo share the top two steps on the podium.
The men’s shot put could see another Antipodean country take the lion’s share of the medals, with defending champion and two-time Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill of New Zealand looking like the leading contenders.
Two-horse 100m race?
South Africa’s Akani Simbine and Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya will continue their rivalry when they go toe-to-toe in the men’s 100m.
Simbine will take some confidence from his third consecutive appearance in a world championships 100m final as he aims to become the first man since British great Linford Christie in 1994 to successfully defend a Commonwealth Games title in the short sprint.
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Omanyala has proved to be Simbine’s kryptonite over the last year, usurping the South African of his African record and title.
The half-lap sprint, in turn, could see Adam Gemili and Zharnel Hughes give the home crowd something to cheer about should the English speedsters get their hands on some bling.
Nigeria’s fastest man, Favour Ashe will also be seeking to spring a surprise as Nigerian sprinters resume the elusive search for the men’s blue ribband title at the Games after three silver medal wins.
The women’s race is equally hard to call. Will the Jamaican sprint queens rule again like they did in Eugene where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson won 100m and 200m gold?
By Dare Esan
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