'Intersex' teenager Mboma wins 200m in 21.84sec

BRUSSELS • Namibian teenager Christine Mboma, who is unable to compete at certain events due to controversial rules over testosterone levels, continued her sparkling season with victory in the 200 metres on her Diamond League debut in Brussels on Friday.

The 18-year-old's win in 21.84sec was the stand-out in a high-quality night of track and field in warm, still conditions at the King Baudouin Stadium in front of 28,000 raucous, unmasked spectators.

Dutch distance queen Sifan Hassan fell short in her bid to better her own world record in the mile.

Sweden's Armand Duplantis nailed a meet record of 6.05 metres in the pole vault, but failed in his bid to go one better than his 6.18m world record - an effort not helped by a long technical delay in raising the bar.

That left the floor to Mboma, who is classified as having differences in sexual development (DSD) - or being an "intersex" athlete - with naturally high testosterone levels and is thus barred from her chosen event, the 400m.

She competed in her first race outside of Africa with an event in the Czech Republic in June, but has gone on to win a surprise Olympic silver in the 200m at the Tokyo Olympics and the world under-20 title in Nairobi.

"I'm really happy with this win because it's my first Diamond League race," said Mboma. "To be able to win in such a strong field is great. It has been a very tough and busy season with the Olympics and the world junior championships, but I'm still in good shape."

She avoided comment on World Athletics regulations by saying that after having stepped down from the 400m, the 200m was now her favourite event.

"I'm just doing my best, just see what I can do," she added. "In the future, I think I can race faster than that. In the next one or two years, I'll try the 100m, just to see."

Tokyo bronze medallist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica was second in 21.95sec, with Britain's world champion Dina Asher-Smith third, just ahead of American Sha'Carri Richardson.

The Ethiopia-born Hassan, who won two golds and a bronze in an unprecedented effort at a distance treble in Tokyo, stormed to victory in the mile (1.6km).

She made the most of two pacemakers and trackside lighting to clock a meet record of 4:14.74 in the non-Olympic discipline, albeit more than 2sec off her own world record set in 2019.

"Since Covid, we never had so big a crowd, it was great!" said Hassan. "I wasn't thinking about the world record, although I knew I was on world-record pace in the beginning. But in the middle, it slowed down a bit - it doesn't matter."

She will run in the 1,500m at the season-ending Zurich Diamond League meet from Wednesday to Thursday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 05, 2021, with the headline ''Intersex' teenager Mboma wins 200m in 21.84sec'. Subscribe