Tag Archives: Christine Mboma

Caster Semenya slams African athletics leaders

Two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Caster Semenya has branded leaders in African athletics “cowards” for failing to stand up and fight for female athletes who are facing eligibility issues.

The 31-year-old is barred from competing in her preferred 800m race by World Athletics’ differences of sexual development (DSD) rules introduced in 2019.

Athletes with high testosterone are required to medically lower their levels in order to compete in events between 400m and 1500m.

“I think that, in this day, we have coward leaders,” Semenya said.

“In this continent, people are quiet. I don’t know why they’re quiet. They’re not fighting for their own athletes.

“You have got to show up and work, fight for your athletes, and then African athletics will be great. At this moment it’s disappointing.”

When asked by BBC Sport Africa about Semenya’s comments and whether African athletics leadership has done enough for its athletes, Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) president Malboum Kalkaba said: “Sorry, I do not have an answer”.

Similar cases across continent

Several other African athletes have been affected by the DSD rules, including Burundi’s Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and her fellow 800m runner Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

Last year, two Namibian teenagers, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, were forced to step down from the 400m weeks before the Tokyo Olympics after they were informed of their elevated testosterone levels.

Both Mboma and Masilingi ended up competing in the 200m in Japan, with Mboma winning historic Olympic silver for her country.

However, Semenya, who now competes over 5000m, has questioned African leadership’s handling of the teenagers’ situation as well as its relative “silence” on the DSD matter in general.

“When I was 18, I couldn’t speak up,” the South African said. “Now I’m mature enough, I can speak.

“Imagine what was going on through those kids’ minds. They can’t do anything, but the leaders are just sitting out there enjoying the privileges, being in the boardrooms.”

CAA director general Lamine Faty said Semenya “has the right to express her sentiments” and that concerns over DSD rules were raised by the organisation a “long time ago” and were discussed again recently at a CAA council meeting in Mauritius.

A debate about eligibility in women’s sports has been heating up, with the recent focus being on the status of transgender athletes.

Last week, World Athletics president Seb Coe hinted his organisation could follow swimming in banning transgender women from elite female competitions, insisting “fairness is non-negotiable”.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year,” he told BBC Sport.

‘We are never going to stop fighting’

Champion over 800m at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Semenya has previously challenged World Athletics’ rules but lost her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019.

She then lost an appeal and was defeated at Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court a year later, before going to the European Court of Human Rights where her case has yet to be heard.

“We are never going to stop fighting,” she said.

“At the moment it is not about me, it’s about the young kids that are coming up now that are going to face the same problem.

“There are a lot of kids that want to compete in 400m, in 800m and in 1500m, but they cannot be included.

“They say sport is for all, but at the moment it’s not for all.”

World Athletics may bar transgender women from female competition

The World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, has hailed swimming’s decision to ban transgender women from elite female competition as in “the best interests of its sport” – and hinted that track and field could soon follow suit.

Lord Coe was in Budapest on Sunday as swimming’s governing body, Fina, voted to bar from women’s events trans athletes who have experienced any part of male puberty. Within 24 hours he announced that the World Athletics council would also be reviewing its transgender and DSD (differences in sex development) athletes policies at the end of the year.

“My responsibility is to protect the integrity of women’s sport. We take that very seriously and, if it means that we have to make adjustments to protocols going forward, we will,” Coe said. “And I’ve always made it clear: if we ever get pushed into a corner to that point where we’re making a judgment about fairness or inclusion, I will always fall down on the side of fairness.”

Under World Athletics rules transgender women can compete in the female category provided they suppress their testosterone to below 5nmol/L for 12 months. That rule was also followed by Fina until Sunday, when it changed its regulations after scientific evidence showed trans women retain an advantage even after reducing testosterone.

When asked what he made of Fina’s new policy, Coe was clear. “We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport,” he said. “This is as it should be. We have always believed, and repeated constantly, that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this.”

As things stand there are no elite‑level trans track and field athletes, although CeCé Telfer became the first openly transgender person to win an NCAA title in 2019 in the women’s 400m hurdles.

Any toughening of the rules will also affect DSD athletes such as the double Olympic and three-times world championship 800m gold medallist Caster Semenya, the 200m silver medallist from Tokyo 2020 Christine Mboma and Francine Niyonsaba, who won the women’s 5,000m Diamond League final last year.

DSD athletes – who have male testes but do not produce enough of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), critical for the formation of male external genitalia – have proved a hugely controversial area for athletics.

In 2019 World Athletics went to the court of arbitration for sport to stop DSD athletes running internationally at events between 400m and a mile, unless they take medication to reduce their testosterone levels. They can, however, run in other events. Cas ruled that 46 XY DSD athletes “enjoy a significant sporting advantage … over 46 XX athletes without such DSD” due to biology.

There has been a great deal of sympathy for athletes such as Semenya, who have been raised as women from a young age and want to compete as one, and any changes to World Athletics’ DSD policy would reignite the controversy.

When asked whether the governing body would consider adopting a similar policy to Fina, Coe said: “We have always said our regulations in this area are a living document, specific to our sport and we will follow the science.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinator in performance and have scheduled a discussion on our DSD and transgender regulations with our council at the end of the year.”

Christine Mboma out of African Championships

Namibia’s Olympic 200m silver medallist Christine Mboma will miss this month’s African Athletics Championships after failing to recover from a thigh injury.

The 19-year-old was injured during the 100m at the Kip Keino Classic continental tour meeting in Kenya on 7 May, pulling up and failing to finish the race.

Her coach Henk Botha confirmed that she has not recovered from the issue which he told BBC Sport Africa at the time would rule her out for at least three weeks.

She will now be absent from the African Championships, which begin on Wednesday, 8 June in Mauritius.

Mboma, who is the reigning BBC African Sport Personality of the Year, is currently Africa’s highest-rated sprinter after an impressive 2021 season which saw her claim the Diamond League trophy and the junior World title over 200m in addition to silver at the Tokyo Olympics.

Her attentions will now turn to regaining fitness ahead of the World Athletics Championships next month.

The World Athletics Championships begin on 15 July in Oregon, United States, with the Commonwealth Games starting on 28 July in Birmingham, England.

Christine Mboma a doubt for African Championships

Namibian sprinter Christine Mboma is a doubt for the African Athletics Championships next month after suffering a thigh injury.

The 18-year-old was injured during the 100m at the Kip Keino Classic continental tour meeting in Kenya on Saturday, pulling up and failing to finish the race, which was won by Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Mboma’s coach Henk Botha told BBC Sport Africa the Olympic 200m silver medallist will be out for at least three weeks after receiving the results of an MRI scan in South Africa this week.

The African Championships begin on 8 June in Mauritius.

“She has a tear in her upper thigh muscle,” Botha added.

“Currently we are not sure about the African Championships but we will only know [if she will compete] in her 10-day assessment. She will definitely be ready for World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.”

Mboma, who is the reigning BBC African Sport Personality of the Year, is currently Africa’s highest-rated sprinter after an impressive 2021 season which saw her claim the Diamond League trophy and the junior World title over 200m in addition to silver at the Tokyo Olympics.

She will not feature in Friday’s Diamond League season opener in Doha, having been expected to race in a field which also includes USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Gabrielle Thomas and Great Britain’s world champion Dina Asher Smith.

The World Athletics Championships begin on 15 July in Oregon, United States, with the Commonwealth Games starting on 28 July in Birmingham, England.

Christine Mboma beats Kipchoge and Kipyegon to lift the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year

Namibian sprinter Christine Mboma has been voted the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year for 2021, so becoming the first female winner in the award’s long history.

The 18-year-old became the first Namibian woman to ever win an Olympic medal when taking silver in a star-studded 200m final in Tokyo last year.

“I feel great and really proud to be a Namibian,” she told BBC Sport Africa.

“I dedicate this BBC award to all Namibians. This is [a reward] for all the hard work I have done.”

Mboma saw off Kenyan runners Eliud Kipchoge and Faith Kipyegon, South African para-athlete Ntando Mahlangu, Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker to win the award.

She becomes the second Namibian athlete to be recognised in such fashion, after sprinter Frankie Fredericks won the BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1993.

This award later became the BBC African Footballer of the Year prize, which ran from 2001 until 2018 when the BBC changed the award back to its original purpose by reflecting the diversity of sports across the continent.

“It is always great to put my country on the spot. I always make my country proud and I thank all the Namibians who voted for me. They will go crazy when they hear this,” she said upon learning of her prize.

In addition to her Olympic silver, Mboma was also a Diamond League champion and Under-20 gold medallist over 200m, and broke the Under-20 record over the distance several times last year.

All those fastest times came shortly after Mboma was barred from her preferred event, the 400m, in July, after being found to have overly-high levels of testosterone.

The sport’s governing body, World Athletics, bars all athletes with naturally-high levels of testosterone from contesting any races between 400m and the mile, arguing that it gives such athletes an unfair advantage.

“I felt disappointed but I did not give up,” she says of the time.

“I didn’t expect [the rest of 2021 would go so well] after what happened but I am really proud of myself for all the achievements I have done. It was very difficult.

“My achievement will motivate young athletes from Africa, and here in Namibia, to try to do their best and to work hard in their dream.”

From Nairobi to Cali: the teenage talents who could defend their world U20 titles in 2022

One silver lining of the postponed World U20 Championships in Nairobi last year is that there is just a one-year wait between that edition and the next one.

It means it’s slightly more likely that the medallists in 2021 will be able to compete for podium places again at the World Athletics U20 Championships Cali 22 on 1-6 August.

Of the 40 individual winners in Nairobi, 16 will be eligible to compete in Cali. Here’s a closer look at those talented teenagers.

Purity Chepkirui – Kenya, 1500m

Chepkirui was one of Kenya’s eight gold medallists in Nairobi. She beat Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji, the 2018 world U20 800m champion and sub-four-minute 1500m runner, to take gold over 1500m in 4:16.07.

Jackline Chepkoech – Kenya, steeplechase

The 18-year-old narrowly missed out on making Kenya’s Olympic team, but then turned her focus to the World U20 Championships. She went on to strike gold in a PB of 9:27.40, beating Ethiopian Olympian Zerfe Wondemagegn by eight seconds. Chepkoech’s teammate Faith Cherotich, who took bronze in Nairobi, will also be young enough to compete in Cali.

Tina Clayton – Jamaica, 100m

One of the youngest winners in Nairobi, Clayton claimed 100m gold in 11.09 and then formed part of Jamaica’s triumphant 4x100m team, setting a world U20 record of 42.94. Her twin sister Tia was also part of the relay quartet and, of course, will be able to compete in Cali later this year.

Mine de Klerk – South Africa, shot put

Another double medallist in Nairobi, De Klerk won the shot put title with 17.40m, having also taken silver in the discus with a PB of 53.50m. In the Colombian capital later this year, she’ll have the opportunity to retain her shot put title and upgrade her discus silver to gold.

Benson Kiplangat – Kenya, 5000m

A relative newcomer, Kiplangat defied the altitude of Nairobi to win 5000m gold in a PB of 13:20.37. In doing so, he held off a strong challenge from Ethiopia’s Tadese Worku, who had won 3000m gold earlier in the championships.

 

Erwan Konate – France, long jump

Having taken bronze at the European U20 Championships in Tallinn in mid-July, Konate uncorked the performance of his life to win long jump gold in Nairobi. The 18-year-old, who started the year with a PB of 7.30m, produced jumps of 7.98m, 8.00m and 8.12m in the final three rounds of the competition to secure the title.

 

Christine Mboma – Namibia, 200m

One of the revelations of 2021, Mboma took Olympic silver in Tokyo before landing the world U20 title in Nairobi in a championship record of 21.84 – one of five sub-22-second performances she achieved in 2021. Her time in Tokyo, 21.81, was recently ratified as a world U20 record and she will have the opportunity to improve on that in 2022, her final year as an U20 athlete.

 

Udodi Onwuzurike – Nigeria, 200m

US-based Nigerian sprinter Onwuzurike enjoyed the competition of his life in Nairobi last year. He smashed his 200m PB in the heats with 20.47, ran a wind-assisted 20.13 to win his semifinal, then took gold in the final with a PB of 20.21. He also featured on the Nigerian 4x100m squad which failed to get the baton around, but he and his teammates can aim to make amends in Cali later this year.

 

Heidi Salminen – Finland, 400m hurdles

Salminen, aged 17 at the time, headed to Nairobi off the back of a disappointing performance at the European U20 Championships in Tallinn, where she finished last in her 400m hurdles semifinal in 60.30. Having never broken 59 seconds before, she set a PB of 58.12 to win her heat and then smashed that three days later to win gold in 56.94.

 

Letsile Tebogo – Botswana, 100m

One of three titles won by Botswana in Nairobi, the men’s 100m went to Letsile Tebogo. The 18-year-old set a PB of 10.22 in the heats, then broke the senior national record in the semifinals with 10.11. Running into a minor headwind, he secured gold in the final in 10.19. He took silver in the 200m two days later, so will be keen to win a sprint double in Cali.

 

Imaobong Nse Uko – Nigeria, 400m

The prodigious Uko, who ran 52.36 at age 14 back in 2018, won three gold medals in Nairobi. The 17-year-old set a lifetime best of 51.55 to win the one-lap sprint title. One day later, she contributed to Nigeria’s triumph in the women’s 4x400m, having also formed part of the winning mixed 4x400m team earlier in the championships. All three medallists in the women’s 400m in Nairobi will be young enough to clash again in Cali this year.

 

Saga Vanninen – Finland, heptathlon

Finnish heptathlete Vanninen was one of a small handful of athletes to win gold at the European U20 Championships and World U20 Championships. The 18-year-old set PBs in the 200m (24.83) and javelin (49.22) en route to her 5997 overall victory, winning by 251 points.

 

Adriana Vilagos – Serbia, javelin

Another 17-year-old winner, Vilagos warmed up for Nairobi by setting a world U18 best of 70.10m with the 500g implement. Competing with the standard senior implement in the Kenyan capital, her opening effort of 61.46m added more than a metre to her PB and stood as the best mark of the competition. One month later, she improved her best to 62.36m in Zagreb.

 

Matvey Volkov – Belarus, pole vault

The prodigious pole vaulter, who set a world U18 best during the indoor season, enjoyed a successful outdoor campaign. After taking silver at the European U20 Championships, he went one better in Nairobi and struck gold with 5.45m.

 

Emmanuel Wanyonyi – Kenya, 800m

Three weeks after turning 17, Wanyonyi scorched to victory over two laps of the track in 1:43.76. Not only did he break the championship record, he also set a Kenyan U18 best.

 

Heristone Wanyonyi – Kenya, 10,000m race walk

No relation to the 800m winner, Wanyonyi produced one of the biggest surprises of the championships to win Kenya’s first global race walking title. He took the 10,000m race walk crown in a PB of 42:10.84, and the fact he excels in altitude should stand him in good stead in Cali later this year.

 

African Sports Personality Award for 2021 list revealed

The shortlist for BBC African Sports Personality of the Year 2021 award has been announced. The six contenders for the accolade were chosen by a panel of journalists from Africa and the United Kingdom.

The panel selected a shortlist based on the best African sporting achievements on the international stage in 2021 (between January and September).

The impact of the person’s achievement beyond their particular sport was also taken into account.

The nominees are:

  • Eliud Kipchoge (athletics)
  • Faith Kipyegon (athletics)
  • Ntando Mahlangu (para-athletics)
  • Christine Mboma (athletics)
  • Edouard Mendy (football)
  • Tatjana Schoenmaker (swimming)

There is more information on the nominees below, where you can also vote for the winner.

Voting closes at 23:59 GMT on Sunday, 19 December and the winner of the award will be announced on Friday, 7 January 2022 on Focus On Africa television and radio and on the BBC Sport website.

Athing Mu wins the female rising star award

Tokyo Olympic Games 800m champion, Athing Mu won the female rising star award at the 2021 World Athletics Athletes of the Year on Wednesday 1 December in Monaco, France.

The 19 year-old has had a brilliant year as she crushed her own American record while winning the women’s 800 1:55.04 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, improving on the previous time of 1:55.21 which she set while winning the gold medal in Tokyo on August 3.

The American beat a strong field that included Christine Mboma the world 200m women record holder, Silja Kosonen the World U20 Championship Hammer Throw champion and Zerfe Wondemagegn the 3000m Olympian.

Erriyon Knighton (youngest U.S. Olympic male track and field athlete since milerJim Ryun in 1964) won Rising Star awards given to the best U20 athletes.

Francine Niyonsaba’s reinvention as a world-beating distance runner

With her performances in 2021, the Burundi has impressively moved up from 800m to longer distances.

But will her record-breaking feats accelerate change which could end her career? The message dropped into my email inbox. My request to interview Francine Niyonsaba had been approved, but with one condition – I was not allowed to ask her about the increasingly hot topic of differences in sex development (DSD).

We might not have spoken about the subject directly, but it never felt far away during the conversation and there has barely been a performance from the Burundian this year which has gone by without a related comment being made.

That is because those performances have been so good. She became the first athlete who identifies as having DSD to officially break a world record when clocking 5:21.26 for 2000m to take over two seconds from the former mark.

It ended a season of high achievement which included the 5000m Diamond League title and the fifth-fastest 3000m time in history. Not bad for someone who is pretty new to the distance running game.

Francine Niyonsaba leads Ejgayehu Taye (Diamond League AG)

That she is running further, of course, is not through choice. The two-time world indoor champion as well as Olympic and world silver medallist for 800m can no longer compete at her favoured event under the World Athletics rules, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which came into force in 2019 and were famously challenged by Caster Semenya.

They decree that DSD athletes are not allowed to compete internationally between 400m and a mile unless they take medication to reduce their high levels of testosterone.

Niyonsaba’s performances – she was also fifth in the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo in what was just her second time racing the distance – and those of the Olympic silver medal-winning, world junior record-breaking sprinter Christine Mboma over 200m have raised questions as to whether or not the rules should widen out to other events. As Sean Ingle of The Guardian wrote, those athletes are “faced with a devilish catch-22.

The faster she [Mboma] runs, the more she provides evidence that she has an unfair advantage as an athlete with DSD”. Understandably, Niyonsaba does not want to fuel any fire but, at the same time, she is very clearly making a point. “They tried to stop me.

Tried to end my dreams,” she tweeted after her 5000m Diamond League victory in Zurich. “But how could I allow them to snatch my dreams away? So I worked hard and resisted those forces who tried to stop me. And here I am!” Speaking with her, there is an apparent determination rather than bitterness. A preference to accentuate the positive.

Asked if she would like to return to the 800m, Niyonsaba is short and to the point. “I would never go back. I keep looking forward.”

Francine Niyonsaba wins the 2018 world indoor 800m (Mark Shearman)

Even when quizzed as to the two-lap performance (and there have been many) of which she is most proud, the 28-year-old replies: “I have forgotten about the 800m because I am now focusing on the longer distances.

“Since I was born I have not had an easy life and I love challenges. I face them with a lot of determination and perseverance. To transform myself from 800m to longer distances was not easy. “I think life is full of challenges but I always say that the challenge is not a barrier but an opportunity to do better.

I still do not know if I like the long distance more than the 800m, but I love challenges. “I won’t think too much about it because it is what it is. At first it was not easy and I got a lot of injuries but I kept believing in myself.”

She adds: “I don’t know [if I will be better at 5000m or 10,000m] but I just love running long distances. Every moment I’m racing, or training, I just love running and I’m happy doing what I do. I am going to keep training hard, trying to perform well.

The good thing about it is that I have a lot to improve – I’m still learning and am sure that I can go a lot faster in the future.”

Francine Niyonsaba (Getty)

Having spent much of her career based in Oregon, Niyonsaba has now relocated to train in Kenya “because Kenyans are often champions in the longer distance”.

There is excitement about returning to the west coast of America for next year’s World Championships. “Eugene will feel like home,” she says. “To be back in Eugene for the World Championship would be fantastic for me and I hope I will be there.”

World Athletics president Seb Coe insists the DSD rules are “here to stay”. But will they have changed by the time Oregon comes around? What’s for certain is that this is an issue which is not going away any time soon.

Source: athleticsweekly.com

Christine Mboma beats Marie Josee Ta Lou at Kip Keino Classic

Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma continued with her superb form as she defeated Ivorian Marie Josee Ta Lou at the 2nd edition of the Kip Keino Classic, a leg of the World Athletics Continental Gold Tour that was held at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani.

Mboma completed her astounding season in the women’s 200m when she won the in 22.39s to make it 11 wins over the distance this year. Mboma, who had to step down to 200m due to World Athletics’ rules relating to naturally high testosterone levels in women closed her season on high note.

“I am not perfect yet in the 200m,” said Mboma. “I am still working at it and hope to be good in the next year.”