AP Photo/Petr David Josek)Sports 

Joseph Fahnbulleh is knocking on the door of earning Liberia’s first Olympic medal.

 

The 2019 Hopkins grad, who holds the Minnesota high school state records in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, sprinted his way into the Olympic men’s 200 final with an impressive semifinal performance Tuesday evening in Tokyo (Tuesday morning Central time).

Fahnbulleh finished with a time of 19.99 seconds in the semifinals. 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 a photo finish. The official order: Brown, Fahnbulleh and Lyles. Lyles, though, also qualified for the final based on his time.

Fahnbulleh flashed an optimistic sign as he qualified for the semis

“It’s top three or bust,” Fahnbulleh told the Pioneer Press before the games. “It is top three or I didn’t do anything at the Olympics, period, and I will try again next time in Paris. But my whole goal since nationals: top 3 or bust.”Fahnbulleh won the NCAA Division I men’s outdoor track championship in the 200 meters for Florida in June with a time of 19.91 seconds. He almost certainly will need to go faster than that in Wednesday’s final — which will be run at 7:55 a.m. Central — to claim a medal, something the 19-year-old is capable of doing. Medaling was his expectation in Tokyo.

Rice Lake (Wis.) product Kenneth Bednarek will race with Fahnbulleh in the final. The 2018 Rice Lake High School grad, running for the United States, finished second in his semifinal with a time of 19.83 seconds, one tenth of a second behind Canada’s Andre de Grasse. Bednarek and de Grasse posted the two fastest times across all semifinals. Culled: www.twincities.com/By JACE FREDERICK

 

Main Photo: Joseph Fahnbulleh, AP Photo/Petr David Josek

 

 

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