One of the highlights of any international sporting event is usually the rivalry ignited among the global names going into the competition, as most of them would be hoping to stamp their authority in their respective events.
The XXI Commonwealth Games which has now taken center stage in Gold Coast, Australia, would definitely not be an exception to these rivalries, with the Athletics event set to ignite lots of contests between athletes who are either yet to win a medal at the Games, or are looking to make history in Gold Coast.
Whatever the case, we are certainly in for a spectacle when the Athletics event kicks off from the 8th of April. Here are our picks of the Top 5 rivalries to watch out for at the Games.
- Elaine Thompson vs Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Women’s 200m)
Elaine Thompson is more than a sprinting sensation; she also is an Olympic double sprint Champion. Since she burst into the limelight in 2015, the Jamaican has been so dominant in the 100m/200m, save for the 2017 World Championships where she finished 5th in the 100m, and the 2018 World Indoor Championships where she placed 4th.
After opting not to run the 200m at last year’s World Championships, it comes as no surprise that the 25-year old has decided to lace her spikes in the half-lap race at the Commonwealth Games as she hopes to use it to prepare for the Diamond League this summer.
With her Personal Best (PB) of 21.66s the sixth joint-fastest on the all-time list, she most likely is a shoe-in to claim GOLD in Gold Coast.
Standing in Thompson’s way for GOLD is Bahamian quarter-miler cum 200m runner, Shaunae Miller-Uibo who enjoyed a good outing in the 200m in 2017, winning a Bronze medal at the World Championships and then clinching the Diamond trophy in the 200m as well.
Incidentally, the 23-year old athlete’s PB of 21.88s was achieved after she claimed victory over Thompson at the final leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Zurich on her way to earning a hefty $50,000 prize money. This certainly spices things up as they each aim to get their hands on their first individual Commonwealth medal.
Women’s 200m final: 12 April
2. Clarence Munyai vs Jereem Richards (Men’s 200m)
When you break the South African record in the 200m at the tender age of 20, it means you are a sprint prodigy! That’s the story of Clarence Munyai who, without even breaking a sweat, soared to a new PB of 19.69s a few weeks ago, taking 0.15s off the National Record set by compatriot Wayde van Niekerk in Kingston, Jamaica, in June last year.
Munyai, who is in the form of his life, would be making his debut appearance at the Commonwealth Games and the youngster would hope to make amends for his performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the World Championships which took place in London last year.
One athlete who has also set his sights on claiming the GOLD medal in Gold Coast is Trinidadian, Jereem Richards. Like Munyai, Richards had showed a lot of promise in the early stages of his career, but his name only began to ring a bell in people’s ears shortly after he claimed a BRONZE medal at the London 2017 World Championships.
With the Commonwealth Games record of 19.97s still being held by Frankie Fredericks for over 23-years now, the head-to-head battle between Munyai and Richards surely would push either one to break the record. Either ways, the thrilling contest between both of them would make for a great spectacle.
Men’s 200m final: 12 April
3. Kyron McMaster vs Nicholas Bett (Men’s 400m Hurdles)
Two athletes who would also be jostling for the GOLD medal in the same event are Kyron Mcmaster of the British Virgin Islands and Kenya’s Nicholas Bett, with both athletes boasting of almost identical PBs in the 400m Hurdles. They are also among the select few competing at the Commonwealth Games to have dipped below 48s in their careers.
For Bett, he is no minnow to running at the global stage. In fact, he announced himself to the world after he stormed to victory with a PB of 47.79s at the Beijing 2015 World Championships, where he also made history by becoming the first Kenyan to win GOLD in a sprint event at the biennial competition.
After failing to defend his title at last year’s World Championship due to a right leg injury he suffered, Bett would hope to compensate for that by winning his first Commonwealth Games medal.
McMaster might have other ideas too. Still hurting from the disappointment of being disqualified from last year’s World Championships due to a lane infringement, the 21-year old would take solace in the fact that he ended the year by clinching the Diamond Trophy in the event, a race in which he defeated the Top 3 finishers at the World Championships. He comes with a PB of 47.80s set last year.
Men’s 400m Hurdles Final: 12 April
4. Yohan Blake vs Akani Simbine (Men’s 100m)
One athlete who needs no introduction to the sprinting world is Jamaican, Yohan Blake. From becoming the youngest 100m World Champion to being the joint second fastest 100m runner of all time, the roll-call of his achievements are almost inexhaustible.
What is however surprising is the fact that he is yet to win any medal of sorts at the Commonwealth Games since he started running over a decade ago. Well, all that was mitigated by his non-appearance at the event as he would only be making his first appearance at the Games.
Having been usurped by younger athletes in the sprinting world in recent years due to niggling injuries he suffered in the past, Blake would be using these Games as a spring board to once again launch his career to the pinnacle of the sport after narrowly missing out on medals at his last two major international competitions.
One of those athletes who have made his mark in the 100m in the last few years is South African, Akani Simbine. The 24 year-old has grown from stride to stride in the 100m, having broken the South African record in 2016 where he set a time of 9.89s.
However, he usually comes short in major finals after finishing outside the medal zone at the Rio 2016 Olympics and the London 2017 World Championships.
Both sprinters have got one reason or the other to want to win their first Commonwealth Games title, but each would have to dominate the other in order to achieve that goal.
Men’s 100m Final: 9 April
5. Danielle Williams vs Tobi Amusan (100m Hurdles)
With home favourite and ‘Face of the Games’, Sally Pearson pulling out of the Hurdles event due to injury, it goes without saying that the duo of Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan and Danielle Williams of Jamaica would want to lay claim to the crown of the undisputed Champion in the 100m Hurdles when the event commences.
Amusan, who just turned professional this year, has shown signs of what to expect after she reached the finals of the women’s 60m Hurdles at the World Indoor Championships, a competition in which she also defeated Sally Pearson during the heats. All of these happened barely a year after she set her PB of 12.57s to win the NCAA title, and also competed at her first World Championships.
Incidentally, Danielle Williams, who narrowly missed out on a medal at the Glasgow Games four years ago, has a PB that is just 0.01s faster than Amusan’s. The PB was achieved when she upset the apple-cart to clinch GOLD at the Beijing 2015 World Championships. This surely makes the duel between the pair all the more interesting.
They however would also have to be wary of the threat posed by England’s Tiffany Porter who was a Silver medallist at the last Commonwealth Games. Whatever the case, we are definitely in for a thrilling contest in the women’s 100m Hurdles final.
Women’s 100m Hurdles Final: 13 April