Saminu
Ghana's Abdul-Rashid Saminu competes against a strong field in the men's 200m final
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Ghana's Saminu set for thrilling 200m final showdown against Africa's elite

The 2024 African Athletics Championships is set for an electrifying climax as Ghana's Abdul-Rashid Saminu storms into the men's 200m final, ready to clash with Africa's elite sprinters on the grand stage.

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On the final day at Douala's Japoma Stadium, spectators will witness a titanic showdown of speed, featuring Kenya’s sprint sensation Ferdinand Omanyala and Botswana’s 2022 gold medallist, Letsile Tebogo, as well as six other contenders who secured their spots in yesterday's semi-final races. 

Saminu dazzled in the semi-finals, clocking in at 20.52 seconds to finish second behind Cameroun's Emmanuel Alobwede Eseme, the local hero and silver medalist from the 2022 championship in Mauritius. Eseme led the pack with a swift 20.47 seconds. 

The finalists also include Nigeria’s Alaba Akintola (20.79 seconds), Zimbabwe’s Tapiwanashe Makarawu (20.67), who won his heat, Mauritius’ Noa Jarel Bibi (20.80), and Liberia’s Joseph Fambullah, all notable competitors from the 2023 African Games in Accra.

Interestingly, all these top stars have qualified for the Olympic Games and are out to claim the glory of being an African champion.

Unfazed by the star-studded lineup, Saminu, making his debut at the African Athletics Championships, is poised for the challenge. "There is no bigger and more competitive platform than the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). We made it out there and are looking forward to the challenge in the final," he confidently stated, having posted a season-best of 20.12 seconds in the 200m.

Eseme, who won 100m gold at Accra 2023, but had to settle for silver at Douala 2024, is looking for an opportunity to secure his nation's first gold of the competition on home soil. At the 2022 championship, Eseme won silver with (20.61) behind Tebogo (20.26) and will be counting on fanatical home support for redemption today.

"It’s a keen race and we will see how it goes. I’m happy I’m in the final though," he remarked.

Mary's medal hope

In the women's 200m final, Ghana's Mary Boakye (23.35 seconds) faces a formidable lineup, including Côte d’Ivoire’s Maboundou Kone (22.99), South Africa’s Shirley Nekhubui (23.29), and Congo’s Christine Mboma in a potentially explosive final.

As the championships draw to a close, Ghana's high jump stars, Cadman Evans Yamoah and Kennedy Ocansey will aim to clear the 2.30m mark, seeking not only medals but also qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“I don’t think I’m under pressure. I will go out there and do what I have trained since our arrival here to do and hopefully, we can get the results we have worked hard for,” Yamoah, whose best at the moment is 1.97m, told the Daily Graphic.

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