Francine Niyonsaba, Olympic 800m silver medalist, moves to 5000m after rule change

Francine Niyonsaba
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Francine Niyonsaba, the Olympic 800m silver medalist, bids for the Tokyo Games in the 5000m after a new rule keeps her out of the 400m through the 1500m unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures.

Niyonsaba, a 27-year-old from Burundi, ran a 10km cross-country race in 33 minutes, 45 seconds on Sunday, according to her social media. Though it’s not totally comparable, the Olympic 10,000m entry standard on the track is 31:25.

The longest distance Niyonsaba has covered in a track race was 2000m in 2019, after the new World Athletics rule went into effect. All of her previous races were 800m and shorter, according to World Athletics.

All three of the Rio Olympic 800m medalists — Caster Semenya, Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui — said they are impacted by a rule instituted in 2019 that caps testosterone levels in women’s events from the 400m through the mile for athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD). World Athletics said that no female athletes would have a level above the cap — five nanomoles per liter — unless they had a DSD or a tumor.

“For me, it’s about discrimination. It doesn’t make sense,” Niyonsaba said in an Olympic Channel interview in 2019. “I didn’t choose to be born like this. What am I? I’m created by God. So, (if) someone has more questions about it, maybe (they) can ask God. I love myself. I will still be Francine. I will not change.”

Semenya, who failed in appeals against the rule, previously said she is bidding to make the Tokyo Olympics in the 200m. Her personal-best 200m time is shy of automatic Olympic qualification.

h/t Evelyn Watta

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