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Somali Sprinter's Agonizingly Slow Finish At International Meet Sparks Outrage

Somalia's track and field chair was suspended after an untrained female sprinter finished last by a massive margin in the 100-meter dash at the World University Games in China.

Somali Sprinter finishing last in 100-meter race
Guardian Sport/YouTube

Somalia's Sports Minister issued an apology in response to the public outrage over an amateur runner who was selected to represent the African nation at China's XXXI FISU World University Games. The sprinter lagged far behind and finished last in the women's 100-meter dash.

Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Barre Mohamud asked for the nation's Track and Field Chair to be suspended following the controversy after expressing concern the runner's participation was a "misrepresentation and embarrassment" for the country.

The young runner was 18-year-old Somali university student Nasra Ali Abukar. She took 21.81 seconds to complete the sprint long after the other athletes finished.

The qualifying standard for the U.S. women's Olympic 100-meter team is 11.15 seconds.

The slowest recorded time in the same women's sprint at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was 15.26 seconds–which was more than six seconds faster than Ali Abukar's time.

A video of her poor performance went viral with over 19 million views on Twitter–and sparked debate on how a participant with no prior training or racing experience was selected to represent the Federal Republic and allowed to compete over a qualified runner.

Elham Garaad, who shared a clip of the viral video, wrote:

"The Ministry of Youth and Sports should step down. It's disheartening to witness such an incompetent government."
"How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running?"
"It's truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally."

People didn't believe Ali Abukar was a qualified sprinter.

Mohamud claimed the Ministry knew nothing about Ali Abukar being selected to compete in the race at China's XXXI FISU World University Games.

And then it all made sense.

Online sleuths made claims of nepotism when Ali Abukar was found to be the niece of Somali Athletics President Abdullahi Ahmed Tarabi and Chair of the Athletics Committee Khadija Adan Dahir.

The revealing information prompted the Ministry to issue a separate statement calling for the Somalia Olympic Committee to suspend Dahir.

People were quick to shut down a person who accused commenters of ableism.

Dahir told BBC Somali Ali Abukar went through rigorous training for the last two years.

However, the statement contradicted the one issued by Ali Abukar.

The young student said she had been training for one month.

In response to the backlash and being labeled "the worst athlete in international games," Ali Abukar said:

"Somalis do not deserve to be represented in a running competition."
"I ran with a sprained leg, […] but I still managed to finish the run."

On August 2, the Somali Olympic Committee implemented an order by the Minister to suspend Dahir, citing her with "abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation."