Over the years, African female athletes have paid their dues in the world of Track and Field, and 2022 was no different as several of them left their mark across various events and competitions including the African Championships, World Championships, Diamond League, and Commonwealth Games amongst others. Here is Part 1 of our Top 10 African Female Athletes of the Year, featuring Nos. 5 to 1.
10. Favour Ofili
Nigeria’s Favour Ofili has steadily risen through the ranks in recent years to become one of the continent’s most promising talents and she proved a worthy ambassador for Africa in 2022 in several races cutting across the 60m, 100m, 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m.
This year, Ofili took the NCAA by storm as she dominated circuits while competing in the 60m and 200m during the indoor season, setting Personal Bests (PBs) and winning events like the Tyson Invitational, Razorback Invitational and New Mexico Collegiate Classic where she set a new African Indoor 200m record of 22.71s, erasing Murielle Ahoure’s former record of 22.80s.
Ofili, who is only the second African woman after Ahoure to clock a sub-23 in the 200m (Indoors), would subsequently smash the record with a new time of 22.61s, then further decimate the record with a superior time of 22.46s to finish 2nd at the SEC Indoor Championships, the same position she recorded at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In the 2022 indoor season alone, Ofili garnered a brilliant seven sub-23s performances, underlining her status as the continent’s best in the event.
In her first 100m race of the season, Ofili stormed to a new lifetime best of 11.11s, bettering the mark to 11.00s a week later. By this time, she was already knocking on a sub-11 performance. Unsurprisingly, the multi-talented athlete subsequently ran an incredible, albeit wind-aided time of 10.90s (+4.2) to place 2nd at the LSU Alumni Gold.
A week later, her consistency paid off as she sped to her first legal sub-11 time, a massive PB of 10.93s to win the LSU Invitational, making her Nigeria’s fastest woman this season and propelling her to 3rd place behind Blessing Okagbare (10.79s) and Glory Alozie (10.90s) in the Nigerian all-time list.
In her very first 200m outdoors, the youngster ran the race of her life at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational to become the first ever collegiate athlete and Nigerian woman to break the 22s barrier, second in Africa only to Christine Mboma as she crossed the line in an unbelievable time of 21.96s, becoming the first female NCAA athlete to run sub-11s and sub-22s in the 100m/200m respectively!
The Nigerian dominated subsequent 200m races, suffering her first defeat of the season in the final of the NCAA Championships where she was beaten to GOLD by Abby Steiner, settling for Silver in 22.05s. She made her second appearance at the World Championships and narrowly missed out on a place in the final after placing 10th overall at the end of the semis with her 3rd place finish in her race.
Ofili arrived the UK for the Commonwealth Games but tragedy struck as she tested positive to Covid-19, leading to her being quarantined. This cast a huge shadow over her participation at the Games but fortunately, she recovered just in time to compete in women’s 200m.
She stormed to victory in 22.71s in her heat and 22.66s (+1.9) in the semis. In the final, Ofili came out of the bend, and although it was a challenge trying to catch Elaine Thompson-Herah (GR 22.02s), the Nigerian athlete pulled away from Christine Mboma to finish 2nd in the women’s 200m final, clocking 22.51s and winning her first senior medal outside Africa.