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Somalian sprinter’s ‘slowest ever’ run sparks social media outrage


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Somalian sprinter’s ‘slowest ever’ run sparks social media outrage

Somali sprinter Nasra Abubakar Ali’s embarrassing performance at the FISU World University Games went viral on Twitter – raising questions about corruption and nepotism in the country.

Sprinter Ali completed the 100-meter dash in 21.81 seconds at the international competition in China on Tuesday, a record slow in the history of the 100m. A video of her competing in the race has more than 19.8 million views on Twitter. The runner appeared confused about how to line up at the starting line and was unable to run fast enough to stay in view of the camera. Many questioned why an underprepared athlete with no previous record of competing in races had been chosen by the Ministry of Youth and Sport in Somalia to represent her country.

Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Barre Mohamud earlier apologised over the incident and said his ministry was not aware of Ali’s selection to compete at the games.

Some sources claim that the sprinter is the niece of Somali Athletics Federation Chairwoman Khadija Aden Dahir and that her inclusion in the team was due to nepotism, amid claims of financial irregularities. A group of disgruntled Somali social media users unearthed a Facebook post that appears to confirm the relationship between the two. Khadija reportedly faced suspension over the incident, for “abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation”, and would take legal action over the incident.

While the incident served as the perfect meme fodder for social media platforms, it has also sparked conversations surrounding Somalia’s long history of corruption. Somalia ranks as the most corrupt country in the world as per the 2022 CPI index. “The sports federation gets funding to develop athletes and those crooks spend it on themselves. Then they get a random person to run an event in exchange for a holiday,” said a Twitter user.

Somalia and East Africa have a rich running culture and often take home top medals in international competitions. But this incident is not the first time Somalia has sparked controversy with its choice of athletes at international athletics events. In 2016, Maryan Nuh Muse ran a sluggish time of 1.10.14 in the 400m at the Rio Olympics. The average time for the event is about 48 seconds.

However, many praised the runner for seeking to take part in the race and for defying the tough conditions faced by Somali women seeking to take part in high-level sport. At the 2012 Olympics in London, Zamzam Mohamed Farah clocked a time of 1:20:48 – some 30 seconds behind the winner. The athlete was reportedly subjected to death threats throughout the games from some in Somalia who believed women should not participate in sport.

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