Somali athlete claps back after viral video labels her “worst athlete” in international games

Nasra Abukar Ali, a Somali athlete, has swiftly responded to a barrage of criticism labeling her the “worst athlete in history” to have participated in international games.

This controversy emerged just hours after the suspension of the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation, intensifying the already heated discussion surrounding the incident.

In an interview shared online, Abukar expressed her perplexity at the harsh criticism, highlighting her dedication to representing her country despite battling an injury. “Somalis do not deserve to be represented in a running competition. I ran with a sprained leg, yet I am subjected to criticism,” she lamented.

The incident transpired during a university games competition held in the city of Chengdu, China, where Abukar took nearly 22 seconds to complete the race—almost twice as long as the winner. A video clip capturing the race was posted online, immediately raising questions about why Somalia would send an apparently unprepared athlete to such a significant event.

Abukar further revealed that the ministry was aware of her selection to represent Somalia for the games, with ministry officials present to bid her farewell at the Mogadishu airport. However, Sports Minister Mohamed Barre contradicted this claim, stating that the ministry was unaware of Abukar’s selection and the circumstances surrounding it.

The viral video depicted Abukar struggling to even assume the starting stance, while her fellow athletes readied themselves for the race. As the starting buzzer rang, the crouching athletes surged forward, leaving Abukar far behind. While other athletes swiftly completed the race, Abukar took her own leisurely pace, occasionally even pausing to jump on the track.

The recorded time was reported as the slowest ever in international competition, resulting in widespread criticism from various quarters. Moreover, allegations surfaced suggesting that Abukar’s selection for the event was purely nepotistic, as she is claimed to be the niece of Somali athletics vice-president Khadija Adan Dahir.

The incident compelled Sports Minister Mohamed Barre Mohamud to issue a public apology on behalf of the Somali people, acknowledging the embarrassment caused. “What happened today was not a representation of the Somali people…we apologize to the Somali people,” he expressed with sincerity.

The revelation that Abukar lacked previous experience in competitive racing has left many Somalis questioning the selection process that allowed her participation. Consequently, the Sports Ministry has initiated an investigation into the matter to shed light on the circumstances surrounding her selection.

In her defense, Abukar asserted that she participated in the race despite suffering from a sprained leg, and she believed she represented her country to the best of her ability. She also criticized those who labeled her the worst athlete, while simultaneously calling for increased support for Somali athletes to ensure their better preparedness for future international competitions.

This incident has sparked a broader debate within Somalia regarding the selection process for athletes and the pressing need for improved training and support. The coming days will determine the measures taken to address these concerns and ensure that Somali athletes are adequately prepared for future competitions.

As the fallout from this controversy continues to unfold, the Somali Athletics Federation, in conjunction with government authorities, faces the challenging task of rebuilding public trust and implementing necessary reforms to enhance the country’s athletic endeavors on the international stage.

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