Francine Niyonsaba
Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi reacts after winning the 5000m Women race during the Weltklasse Zuerich, Diamond League meeting at the Sechselaeutenplatz on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Weltklasse Zuerich/Urs Jaudas)

Francine Niyonsaba received a hero’s welcome after arriving back home in Bujumbura. She missed making the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games final but enjoyed a fantastic season.

Francine Niyonsaba broke the world 2000m record at the Boris Hanzekovic Memorial, clocking 5:21.56 on Tuesday (14 Sept).

The Burundian also won the Wanda Diamond League title at 5000m. 

“I feel like I did something extraordinary. Now I can say that I am unique in the world in some way,” the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 800m silver medallist she told journalists.

“This world record belongs to the whole of Burundi,” Francine Niyonsaba said. 

Thousands of people greeted her on arrival at the airport. A large crowd cheer her along the way to the city centre. 

She waved to them through the open roof of the car and showed them the Diamond trophy. 

Niyonsaba was among those barred as an intersex athletes who refuse to alter their natural hormones to meet the rules of sport.

Intersex people are born with atypical chromosomes or sex characteristics. Women like double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya have some male sex characteristics, including internal testes that produce average male levels of testosterone.

World Athletics, the sport’s governing body, says this lends an unfair advantage over middle distance and, in 2019, mandated lower testosterone to “ensure fair competition for all women”.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here