Fireworks explode during opening ceremony of the 31st FISU Summer World University Games at Dong'an Lake Sports Park Stadium on July 28, 2023 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China.

Fireworks explode during opening ceremony of the 31st FISU Summer World University Games at Dong'an Lake Sports Park Stadium on July 28, 2023 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China.

Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

Somalian Sprinter's Questionable Performance Results in Suspension of Somali Sports Official

Somalian sprinter Nasra Ali Abukar sparked online controversy and accusations of nepotism for an embarrassingly slow performance at the World University Games in Chengdu, China.

A Somali sports official has been suspended for nepotism after a viral video emerged showing an apparent novice runner crossing the finish line in last place at an international competition.

The video, widely circulated on social media, captures Nasra Ali Abukar competing in the women's 100-meter race during the first round of the International University Sports Federation's (FISU) Summer World University Games.

Abukar's performance started sluggishly as she fell far behind the pack, eventually jogging towards the finish line and ending with a small skip. Her finishing time of 21.81 seconds was more than 8 seconds slower than the second-last runner and over 10 seconds behind the heat winner.

The video prompted a wave of reactions on social media, with many expressing ridicule and disbelief. One Twitter user with the handle "X" garnered over 47 million likes for a post expressing disappointment in the selection of an allegedly untrained athlete to represent Somalia in running.

As a result of the controversy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Somalia announced on Wednesday the suspension of Khadijo Aden Dahir, the chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation. The ministry accused Dahir of engaging in "acts of abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation in the international arena," as stated in a letter addressed to the Somali National Olympic Committee and tweeted by the ministry.

Mohamed Barre Mohamud, the Somali Minister of Youth and Sports, publicly acknowledged the incident in a Facebook video and apologized for its impact, stating that it did not represent the Somali people.

Although the suspension letter referenced nepotism, no direct link was made between Dahir and the athlete, Nasra Ali Abukar.

The incident has drawn significant attention and raised questions about the selection process for Somali athletes. Abukar's performance has been widely criticized, and there are claims that her inclusion in the competition may be linked to alleged financial irregularities within the federation.

The Somali Athletics Federation has announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Abukar's participation in the event.

In the past, Somalia has faced similar scrutiny over the selection of female athletes, as seen in the case of Maryan Nuh Muse, who represented the country in the 400 meters at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite recording a significantly slow time.

In a video capturing the race, Abukar is shown falling behind as the rest of the field sprint towards the finish line, with the winner completing the distance in just 11.4 seconds.

Putting Abukar's speed into perspective, the qualifying standard for the U.S. women's Olympic 100m team is 11.15 seconds. Even the slowest recorded time in the women's 100m at the 2020 Olympics was 15.26 seconds, more than six seconds faster than Abukar's time.

World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, awards points based on performance, with a maximum of 1,400 points for women finishing the 100m in 10.12 seconds or less. In comparison, finishing the 100m in 21.68 seconds, still faster than Abukar's time, awards only 1 point.

The selection of Abukar for the competition has sparked controversy and raised questions on social media about the validity of her inclusion. Allegations of nepotism have surfaced, as some claim she is the niece of Somali Athletics President Abdullahi Ahmed Tarabi, and her presence in the team is linked to claims of financial irregularities.

Elham Garaad, who originally posted the video on Twitter, criticized the government's decision, expressing disappointment and labeling it as an example of an "incompetent government."