Monrovia- Liberian sprinter Joseph Fahnbulleh has qualified for the men’s 200 meters race final at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. He is knocking on the door of earning Liberia’s first Olympic medal.
In the semi-finals, Tuesday, 19-year old Fahnbulleh jointly clocked first place with two other athletes with 19.99 seconds. Fahnbulleh is the first Liberian to make the final at an Olympic event and clocking 19.99 seconds is a national record for him.
The top two finishers in each of the three semifinals automatically qualify for the final. Fahnbulleh, Canada’s Aaron Brown and the United States’ Noah Lyles were featured in the photo finish. The official order: Brown, Fahnbulleh, and Lyles. Lyles, though, also qualified for the final based on his time.
Fahnbulleh has become the second Liberian to advance to the semi-finals in the ongoing Olympic games. He took second place in his 200 meters first-round heat quarter-final clocking 20.46 seconds on Monday.
The 19 years old came to the limelight when he emerged as the winner in the 200m race at the NCAA Division 1 outdoor track and field championships – Men’s 200-meter dash in the USA. He clocked 19.91 seconds which put him in 6th place of the fastest man in the world in 2021 and second African behind Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru.
Liberia has been to the 12 Olympics but has never won a medal. Now, Joseph Fahnbulleh has taken the red, white and blue outfit to a final. “I knew I wasn’t gonna back down,” Fahnbulleh told Go Team Liberia. “I’ve been ready. I’ve been saying to myself, since the beginning of my high school career ‘I can run with the best of them. Just give me a chance.’”
Looking to the finals
The final race will be a battle between Canada, USA, Liberia, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica. Just a tenth of a second separated Fahnbulleh from Lyles and Brown, which ushered them all into the top five. He is moving into the finals with a serious chance for a medal and makes history for Liberia. His team could not be prouder.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Liberia’s lead national track and field coach, Sayon Cooper said to Go Team Liberia. “We knew when we saw Joseph something special was going on. We’re proud of him. He made history. He’s such a young kid [and] he has a long career ahead of him. We’re so grateful to have him on Team Liberia and we’re blessed.”
The men’s 200 meters finals will take place at 9:55 pm local Japanese time on Wednesday, August 4. Those watching from Liberia can tune in at 12:55 pm GMT and people watching from the US can view the finals at 8:55 am EST.