In athletics, the athlete is constantly involved in two parallel competitions. The first fights against itself, or the absolute if you prefer: the challenge is to push your limits, to surpass your best over and over again. The second integrates the competition of a race, a big championship, a big day and allows you to win titles. The two compete less often than the layman might think.
Also read: World Athletics Champion Mujinga Kambundji: “I had a blackout during the race”
Mujinga Kambundji managed the 200 meters of his life in the semi-finals of the Eugene Worlds on Tuesday night. The 30-year-old sprinter from Bern ran 22”05, beating the Swiss record by 0”13, which she had already improved on June 14 in Wankdorf, which is enormous. It’s also 46 hundredths of a second better than her time in the final of the previous edition in Doha in 2019 when she was adorned with the bronze medal.
“This is going crazy”
But in Oregon, it took little for his performance, exceptional by his own standards, to keep him grounded. For the final, which takes place on Friday at 4:35 a.m. (Swiss time), she was only able to secure eighth and last place. Alongside seven runners who outperformed her in the semifinals, including six who crossed the finish line in under 22 seconds, she will struggle to repeat her bronze performance from three years ago. Although she has made tremendous strides since then…
Since 2019 she has been the flag-bearer of the Swiss delegation at the 2020+1 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she shone in the 100m final in sixth place and over 200m in seventh place. A few months later, in March 2022, she became the world indoor champion in the 60 meters, an unprecedented feat in the history of national athletics.
But the athletes can only concentrate on what they master: the personal competition, which they take to the absolute. So Mujinga Kambundji is enjoying his own form rather than regretting the relative demotion that awaits him at the Worlds. “I’m very happy with my race in the semifinals because it’s a new national record, now very close to 22 seconds,” she explained, still breathless. I knew that in those times I had to run to get to the finals and I was very afraid that my time would not be enough. What to expect from the 200 meters for the title? “I’m curious to find out for myself but I think it’s going to be crazy because all the girls go really fast…”
The gold medal seems promised to one of the Jamaicans who achieved the hat-trick at 100 meters (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah), or even the American Tamara Clark or the British Dina Asher-Schmied. It gets more complicated for the Nigerian Aminatou Seyni.
Also read: Record delegation for Switzerland at the Eugene Athletics World Championships
There is no way Mujinga Kambundji will leave the US disappointed. Aware of the much tougher competition than in Doha three years earlier, her only goal was to qualify for the finals of her two disciplines, as she had already done at the Tokyo Olympics. In Eugene she has already taken a terrific fifth place over 100 meters.
And after his last individual race, his world championships will not be over yet. She will defend the Swiss colors during the 4x100m relay, which runs overnight from Friday to Saturday, alongside Ajla Del Ponte, Salomé Kora and a fourth sprinter to be chosen between Géraldine Frey, Natacha Kouni and Sarah Atcho. The team, which has the best world performance of the year at 42”13, is confident. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough against the competition to do better than fourth place at the Olympics in Tokyo.
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