Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Mix-Up Almost Costs KU Sprinter Zainab Sanni Shot at Olympics

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Mix-Up Almost Costs KU Sprinter Zainab Sanni Shot at Olympics

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- An identity crisis of sorts halfway across the world almost ended Zainab Sanni's Olympic dream.

Sanni, a senior sprinter for the KU track team and native Nigerian, was in her home country Friday competing in its Olympic Trials. At stake as she lined up for her 100-meter dash heat was a spot on Nigeria's 400-meter relay team.

Sanni came up big, edging Jennifer Madu in a tight finish to earn a spot in the finals. A top-six finish there would guarantee a spot on the national team at the Rio Olympic Games this summer.

When Sanni heard her heat's final results, though, something was amiss.

"My name wasn't on there," Sanni said. "They said I ran some ridiculous slow time, and I was like, 'That's not right!' "

Sanni dashed again, this time across the field to flag down one of her coaches. The pair went to the officials' station to alert them of the error.

At first, the powers that be didn't buy it.

"You're not Zainab," one of the officials told the 5-foot sprinter.

"I am Zainab," the KU senior insisted.

After a replay review, the officials recognized their error and placed Sanni in the finals, where she finished sixth with a time of 11.48 -- on little warm-up time, no less -- to earn a berth in Rio.

Sanni returned to the United States on Wednesday and called the last two weeks rough and stressful but added it was all worth it now that she can represent Nigeria, where she lived until she was 9. The ordeal gave her a new appreciation for the order at stateside meets.

"It's not as standardized as it is here where everything is just boom-boom-boom," Sanni said. "I don't know why they got it messed up. They gave my place to some other girl."

If she hadn't spoken up about the error, Sanni said she is certain her spot would have been given to another competitor. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.