‘So alone’: Niyonsaba criticizes own team after Olympics DQ

Jul 30, 2021, 10:42 AM | Updated: 10:56 pm

TOKYO (AP) — Olympic silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba criticized her own team officials and said Saturday she felt “so alone” after she was disqualified for lane infringement and denied a place in the 5,000-meter final at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 800-meter specialist would have provided a compelling story if she had made the medal race in the 5,000.

She was forced to swap events after being barred from running the 800 at the Olympics because of World Athletics’ testosterone rules. She managed to qualify in the 5,000 and 10,000, which don’t fall under the testosterone regulations.

Niyonsaba, who is from Burundi, then unexpectedly finished among the leaders in her 5,000 heat at the Olympic Stadium on Friday night. She was celebrating a place in the final in a media area at the stadium only to realize she’d been disqualified for stepping across lane markings at the start of the race.

“My dreams of making it to the finals were crushed,” she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.

Niyonsaba felt the decision was unfair. The lane infringement in the bustle at the start of the race wasn’t her fault, she said. She appealed but lost.

She noted the United States 4×400 mixed relay team won an appeal against their disqualification for an illegal baton change in the heats on the same night, and won back their place in the final.

“Where was the Burundian team leader when I needed him by my side?” Niyonsaba said in her statement. “USA challenged the disqualification of their mixed relay team and won it. Why could Burundi not do the same for me? I felt so alone, unsupported.”

Niyonsaba won the silver medal behind Caster Semenya in the 800 at the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an event that stoked conversation and controversy about track and field’s testosterone regulations. All three medalists that day, Semenya, Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, were later barred from the event under new rules because of high levels of natural testosterone.

Niyonsaba switched to the unregulated long distances and qualified for Tokyo against expectations. Semenya failed in her own bid to qualify in the 5,000.

Niyonsaba spoke Friday night of how hard that was.

“I said I wanted to be an inspiration,” she said. “To be here means a lot. From the 800 to 5K is not easy but I like challenges.”

Niyonsaba wrote in a separate Twitter post that she was looking forward to running in the 10,000 final in Tokyo next Saturday, which has no heats and will be decided in a one-off race for gold.

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Brazil's Neymar reacts after the penalty shootout at the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match betwee...
Associated Press

Pelé sends message of support to Neymar after World Cup exit

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian soccer great Pelé congratulated Neymar for matching his national team scoring record on Friday, and then commiserated with the player for his World Cup exit. Pelé, who has been hospitalized while being treated for a respiratory infection, posted his message on Instagram after Brazil lost to Croatia in the quarterfinals […]
17 hours ago
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, embraces quarterback Baker Mayfield after the Rams de...
Associated Press

Rams’ lost season suddenly brightened by Baker magic

Now imagine what Baker Mayfield and Sean McVay can do with two practices together. That’s the prevailing thought around the Los Angeles Rams while they head into a highly enjoyable long weekend after their stunning, come-from-behind, last-minute 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night. “That was a special night,” McVay said Friday. […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Kansas school’s students disciplined for offensive behavior

Several students at a Kansas high school have been disciplined for their behavior during a high school basketball game after a coach accused them of making offensive chants toward his team. Topeka High School Coach Geo Lyons said his team was subjected to “racial slurs, threats and disgusting taunts” by students from Valley Center High […]
17 hours ago
A man holds an Argentinian flag prior to the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Nether...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: World Cup highlights from Day 18

Highlights from the 18th day of the World Cup in Qatar on Friday. ___ AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
17 hours ago
FILE - Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud celebrates after a long run against Indiana during the se...
Associated Press

Georgia QB Bennett is old-school Heisman Trophy contender

NEW YORK (AP) — At a time when Heisman Trophy winners are usually on their way to being first-round picks in the NFL draft, Stetson Bennett is a contender from another era of college football. The Georgia quarterback already has a national championship ring and this season he has stepped up his own play in […]
17 hours ago
Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saves a ball during the penalty shoot out at the World Cup q...
Associated Press

Croatia wins yet another penalty shootout at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — When it comes down to a penalty shootout at the World Cup, count on Croatia to make it through. Twice already at the tournament in Qatar and twice four years ago in Russia, the Croats had to steel themselves for one of the toughest — and certainly one of the […]
2 days ago
‘So alone’: Niyonsaba criticizes own team after Olympics DQ