Jamaica’s seven-time Olympic gold medallist and nine-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has leapt to the defence of Namibia’s sprint aces Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, saying the teens should be left in peace to busk in the glory of Tokyo Olympics success.
Speaking to Australia’s oldest broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald after Tuesday’s women’s 200m final, which saw the 18-year-old Mboma leapfrogging her to the silver medal in a record-smashing time of 21.81, the Jamaican sprint legend admitted that the Namibian teens are being dragged through unfair scrutiny over their hard-earned exceptional performances.
“They were denied in the specific event they wanted to run [400m] and they were given another event, and they were still excellent in that event [200m]. Listen, the ladies compete in this event; we can talk about it all we want but I don’t think that is an excuse for anybody. That is something that if any other athletes [are] having issues, they will have to take that up with the IOC, because rules are rules,” Fraser-Pryce said.
The 34-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who in 2015 toured Namibia and hosted countrywide educational seminars for school athletes and coaches, finished fourth overall in the 200m final behind bronze medal winner Gabby Thomas of the US (21.87). The race was won by Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, who crossed the line in a time of 21.53 ahead of Mboma.
Besides missing out on a podium spot in spite of being top favourite going into Tuesday’s mega final, the Jamaican speedster still strongly believes the playing field was levelled and any further swirling of the controversial naturally-high testosterone topic around the two Namibians would be unfair and uncalled for.
“I did not go in the race thinking that something was wrong with anybody in the race. It is us all wanting for a chance for Olympic glory. If I am 19 and somebody is telling me I can’t run in that event, I think it might have impacted me to then still come out here...in those circumstances,” added Fraser-Pryce, who at the 2008 Beijing Olympics became the first Caribbean woman to win gold in the 100m.
Mboma and Masilingi, who finished sixth overall in a new personal best of 22.28, are classified by World Athletics as athletes of different sexual development.
Both are banned under IOC and World Athletics rules from competing in any event from 400m to a mile because of their elevated testosterone levels.
There is no ban on them competing at events shorter or longer than those two distances.
Adapted from the Sydney Morning Herald