Somalia apologize for fielding record slow sprinter

There have been calls in Somalia for officials to be sacked, after fielding a novice 100m sprinter in the the World University Games in China.

The country’s sports minister has apologised for selecting Nasra Abubakar Ali, who took almost twice as long as the winner to compete the race.

She reportedly had no previous experience in top-level competitions.

In a video of the event, the athlete is soon left out of shot and eventually completes the race with a jovial skip.

The novice athlete completed the race in 21.81 seconds – more than 10 seconds behind the eventual winner.

Sports Minister Mohamed Barre Mohamud described the incident as an embarrassment.

“What happened today was not representation of the Somali people… we apologise to the Somali people,” he said.

The fact that she reportedly had no previous experience of competing has prompted some Somalis to wonder why she was ever selected.

“It’s disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running?” wrote one social media user, Elham Garaad. “It’s truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally.”

In a press release posted to its Facebook page, the Association of Somali Universities said it had not appointed any athlete to compete in the event.

The Somali Athletics Federation has reportedly agreed to launch an investigation into how Ms Abubakar Ali was selected.

The 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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