Alfred looks the real deal; Orogot runs blistering 200m as Amusan loses first 100m Hurdles race of the season to Nia Ali
What a week in Athletics! Guess we never get tired of saying it. But truly, College athletes seem to be giving professional athletes a run for their money. At the Tom Jones Memorial in Gainesville, Julien Alfred gets runs a blistering world lead to win the women’s 200m, Ugandan Tarsis Orogot is making an early claim for a medal in Budapest, and World record holder in the women’s 100m Hurdles, Tobi Amusan loses her first race of the season in the event.
Julien Alfred runs world lead in the women’s 200m, which shows she’s the real deal.
The NCAA has a knack for churning out stand-out athletes every year. After all, that’s one of its mandates. Ensure it creates the right competition amongst the collegiate schools, and stars will emerge. This year, undoubtedly, the biggest shining star has to be Julien Alfred.
After a couple of races in the relay outdoors, the University of Texas’ senior stormed to an incredible 21.91s to win the 200m at the Tom Jones Memorial in Gainesville, Florida. A couple of things to unpack from this performance over the weekend, but the highlight has to be the gap she opened up on the home- straight against her competitors.
Julien Alfred 21.91 pic.twitter.com/Ghn36NPGSZ
— Travis Miller (@travismillerx13) April 14, 2023
A staggering 0.40s was the distance between Alfred and second-place McKenzie Long. It just accentuates St. Lucian’s dominance on the 100m/200m at the moment, that it would take a catastrophe for her not to emerge as NCAA outdoor champion in June and a medal contender at the World Championships in August.
It’s the fastest 100m All-Conditions at 10.72 (2.4+) for us
Julien Alfred does it again! pic.twitter.com/LzCC1WvqH1
— Texas T&F/XC (@TexasTFXC) April 17, 2023
How much faster can she run this year? Abby Steiner had set the standard when she ran 21.80 for the University of Kentucky. But if you are going to stake your house on an athlete running faster than that, it has to be Alfred. After all, she ran Personal Bests of 6.94 for the 60m and 22.01 in the 200m set at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the best-ever one-day indoor sprints double.
For good measure, too, Alfred blazed to a marginally windy 10.72s (2.4) to win the first women’s 100m section at the same meet.
Tarsis Orogot is rewriting the script for sprinting for East Africans after a 19.60s run in the 200m
It’s common knowledge that Kenyans, Ugandans, and Ethiopians are known for their distance running prowess. However, in recent times, we have begun to see a gradual rise in their sprinting capabilities, with Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala leading that charge.
Now, there is a new Ugandan kid on the block, and his name is Tarsis Orogot. After he broke into the scene at the World U20 Championships in Nairobi in 2021, the 20-year-old teamed up with the University of Alabama the following year as he continued his rise.
2023 200m Season Opener ~19.60 (2.9)
Fastest All Condition 200m time by any African in History
Glory to God pic.twitter.com/HU08b97geP
— Tarsis Orogot (@tarsis_de_gonya) April 16, 2023
Following his recent 19.60s (2.9m/s) win over the 200m, we surely have to take Orogot seriously this year, to the point where he seems a genuine contender for the NCAA title. He reached a new tier of running that only the very best in history have reached. The time ranks him as the eleventh fastest runner in all conditions over the distance, and if you are a fan of adjusting times to wind readings of not more than 2.0m/s, then we are looking at figures in the range of 19.75s-19.78s. Still, it still makes for incredible numbers for a runner who only finished last year with a Personal Best of 20.32s.
Tobi Amusan comes unstuck in her first 100mH race of the season, but no cause for alarm
World record holder in the women’s 100m Hurdles, Tobi Amusan, ran her first race of the season over the distance and came second behind 2019 world champion Nia Ali. It was a battle of the former world champions and just further indicates the level of competitiveness in the event this year.
Ali took the win in 12.53s from Amusan, who ran 12.59s. The latter went on to run the 100m in a new Personal Best of 11.10s. For an athlete who won all there is to win last year, it’s rather strange she isn’t managing her races well. After all her exploits last year, the target is on her back, and everyone wants to take her down.
Tobi Amusan made a return in the women’s 100mH at the Tom Jones Invitational, powering through to notch a 2nd place finish in 12.59s! Nia Ali won the race in 12.53s (1.4).
Great way to start the season, Tobi Express! pic.twitter.com/yoCxjjQSRo
— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) April 15, 2023
But there is nothing really much to get worried about. If you are the type to look at the glass cup as half full instead of half empty, then Amusan’s loss shouldn’t be one to shake her. Three races, three decent times, and, more importantly, she came out unscathed.
It would be a year Amusan hasn’t witnessed before. She is used to chasing her rivals, but now, they are doing the chasing. How she reacts after this loss will say a lot about whether her achievements last year were a one-off.
Tobi Amusan is now the fastest African woman this season for both 100m and 100m hurdles pic.twitter.com/DoTFGMGMg7
— Yorùbáness (@Yorubaness) April 16, 2023
Rai Benjamin gets off the mark with a dominant win at the Mt. SAC Relays
If there is an athlete that gets on with the nearly-man tag in professional sprints, it is Rai Benjamin. The US hurdler has come unstuck twice at his last two major championships- the Olympics and World Championships, albeit to much better opponents in Karsten Warholm and Alison Dos Santos.
Rai Benjamin takes the 400m hurdles, in 47.04, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, June 23-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris
Perhaps, this might just be his year as he got off to a fine start with a 47.74s clocking at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut. As expected, it was a dominant win for Benjamin, but the real test will come when he squares up against Warholm later in the season.
The Norwegian, who is the world record holder, hasn’t had a fabulous last 12 months on the world stage as he looks to get back to full throttle this year. Benjamin’s other nemesis Dos Santos is also out for the rest of the year. It couldn’t come juicier for Benjamin to snag his first Gold at the World Championships in Budapest this year.
We might have just found the next Duplantis in Mykolas Alekna
Field events are usually prone to a certain level of dominance from particular athletes ranging for various reasons. And over the years, we have just gotten used to these athletes putting a stranglehold on their events.
Mykolas Alekna, European Champ, at age of 19, in the discus, photo by #Munich2023/EuropeanAthletics
And now, we have a new kid on the block who will most certainly breeze through his rivals in subsequent years in the men’s Discus. Mykolas Alekna is one such athlete. The Lithuanian is a freak of a specimen, and he just continues to rise through the ranks, as seen with his latest victory at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Alekna, the World Discus silver medallist, continued his strong start to the season, getting close to his own world lead of 68.39m with a best throw of 68.39m. More important is the sort of form he’s getting into, and once he becomes a full-grown man, it’s just a matter of time before he threatens Jürgen Schult’s long-standing record of 74.08. We might just have a Mondo Duplantis-like specimen in our hands.