Francine Niyonsaba wins the 800m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (© Getty Images)
Burundi had waited 23 years for a world indoor medal and now – like waiting for a bus – two have shown up in quick succession.
One day after Antoine Gakeme took silver in the men’s 800m, compatriot Francine Niyonsaba went one better in the women’s event by winning gold in a world-leading national indoor record of 2:00.01.
USA’s Ajee Wilson, the world leader going into the race, dashed to the front in the first 100m and the pace then steadied as the field settled behind her, covering the first lap in 29.23.
Kenya’s world junior champion Margaret Wambui then moved into the lead on the backstretch of the second lap, but her lead was short lived. By the end of that lap, having covered 400m in 1:00.56, Niyonsaba took up the running at the front.
With 1:29.78 on the clock as the bell sounded for the final lap, Niyonsaba had built up a lead of about two or three metres as she began to kick. Wilson had Wambui in her sights and gradually began to close on her.
Niyonsaba, though, was out in front as she approached the finish, crossing the line in 2:00.01. Wilson passed Wambui in the closing stages to take silver in 2:00.27 while Wambui held on for a PB of 2:00.44 in third.
Wilson’s teammate Laura Roesler looked to be in contention at the start of the final lap but was unable to catch the leading trio and finished fourth in 2:00.80.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF