BUJUMBURA September 28th (ABP) – After her coronation, the champion at the recent Diamond League tournament, Mrs. Francine Niyonsaba, hosted a press conference on Saturday September 25 during which she returned to her course that has enabled him to reach the high level internationally.
The athlete Niyonsaba said that it all started from his early childhood in Kayongozi in Ruyigi province (eastern Burundi). It all started by walking 20 km each day from home to school.
She said she started school competitions from Ruyigi by covering distances of 200m, then progressed to the 400 m. It is with the distance of 800m she started to evolve well, gradually building her world renown.
It was in 2016, at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, that Mrs. Niyonsaba was in the category of the best athletes in the world, placing 2nd in the final of the Olympic Games over the 800m distance. That Olympic medal was the second, after the gold one received by Venuste Niyongabo in 1996 in Atlanta, America.
After the Rio Olympics, World Athletics banned “female athletes with excessively high testosterone levels from competing in the distances from 400m to 1,609m”. Francine Niyonsaba, who was part of this category, was affected by this decision and could no longer run the 800m distance.
Deemed “too androgenic”, Francine Niyonsaba had to either give up the sport or change distance and run over distances of 100 to 200 m, or run from 1700 m at most.
“I had a determination that helped me meet this challenge of dedicating myself to long distances and achieving the minimums for the Tokyo Olympics over the distances of 5,000 and 10,000 m,” said Francine Niyonsaba.
Athlete Niyonsaba, who was disqualified for the Olympic Games 5,000m final when she qualified “after walking off the track,” said she hadn’t made a mistake. The decision to disqualify her remained unchanged because, she said, the challenge request came to the organizing committee too late. Despite her disqualification in the 5,000m, she finished 5th in the final of the Olympic Games over the 10,000m distance.
After the Olympics, Francine Niyonsaba took part in the Diamond League competitions where she handily won 1st place in the 5,000m distance in the final of this tournament which took place in Zurich, Switzerland, on September 8, defeating double world gold medalist in 2017 and 2019, and Kenyan Olympic vice-champion Hellen Obiri in 2021 in Tokyo. She had placed 1st in previous tournaments in that league which had been held in Paris and Brussels.
Continuing its momentum, Francine Niyonsaba won at the meeting in Zagreb, in the capital of Croatia, on September 14, setting a new world record over 2,000 m in 5’21”56, thus dethroning the Irishwoman. Sonia O’Sullivan and her previous time of 5’25”36 dating from 1994.
The athlete Niyonsaba thanked the President of the Republic, the country’s high authorities and the Burundian population for the support she received from them. While expressing her gratitude for the welcome she received on September 22 when she returned home with the Diamond League trophy, she noted that it is a great honor for her. She promised to keep working hard to earn it and bring honor to the country.
“Winning the Diamond League trophy, as Francine Niyonsaba did, is every athlete’s dream to be among the world’s greatest athletes,” she said.