Untrained Somali athlete’s race ignites nepotism scandal

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – A ripple of shockwave rolled through the international athletic community following a contentious performance at the World University Games in Chengdu, China.

Nasra Abukar Ali, a 20-year-old untrained runner from Somalia, found herself at the center of this controversy, provoking a swell of outrage and triggering a serious investigation.

Ali competed in the women’s 100-meter race, posting a time of 21.81 seconds, a far cry from the winning time. She finished the race last, a full 10 seconds behind the Brazilian winner, Gabriela Silva.

This significantly lagged finish caused the cameras to pan back to Ali, capturing her continued effort as her competitors slowed to a halt.

Her determination notwithstanding, this incident has sparked considerable distress, with global observers questioning how such a visibly unprepared runner ended up competing at this prestigious event.

Public uproar and investigations

The unusual selection of Ali to represent her nation didn’t sit well with the Somali population.

Elham Garaad, a prominent Somali commentator, vented her frustration on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), saying, “The Ministry of Youth and Sports should step down.

It’s disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in the running? It’s truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally.”

The disquiet prompted the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Somalia to launch an internal investigation, digging deeper into the circumstances surrounding Ali’s selection.

Nepotism allegations 

The shockwaves intensified when it was revealed that Ali is Khadija Aden Dahir’s niece, the Somali Athletics Federation Chairwoman.

Dahir had shared a photo of Ali at her graduation on social media, stoking suspicion and sparking allegations of nepotism.

Following an initial investigation, the Somali Ministry of Youth and Sports announced Dahir’s suspension, citing abuse of power, nepotism, and tarnishing of the nation’s international reputation.

The report noted that Ali had been identified as neither an athlete nor a runner.

The Ministry, in its statement released by the office of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Mohamed Barre Mohamud, further declared its intention to pursue legal action against both Dahir and those responsible for the Somali University Sports Association’s falsification.

A loophole in world athletics

The peculiar circumstances of Ali’s participation perplexed many observers. Usually, athletes are required to qualify to compete in such events.

However, the World Athletics policy does permit each country to enter one unqualified male or female athlete in one event of the championships, as reported by Yahoo Sports.

The Marshall Islands similarly exercised this exception during the 2022 World Athletics Championships.

Their unqualified athlete, Ka’Alieena Bien, finished her race in 14.71 seconds, far off the gold medal-winning time of 10.67 seconds. Despite this, her performance was significantly better than Ali’s time.

This recent event highlights the consequences of exploiting loopholes in international athletic competitions and the potential repercussions of such actions.