Francine Niyonsaba kept her Olympic medal hopes alive Thursday night, setting a new national record in the women’s 800 metres.
Niyonsaba ran the distance in one minute, 58.67 seconds, beating her own previous record of. She finished second in her qualifying group to Maria Savinova of Russia (1:58.57) and easily advanced to Saturday’s final.
Niyonsaba, who is relatively inexperienced on the international stage, will face top runners such as Kenyan Pamela Jelimo and South African Caster Semenya in the final as she tries to top her previous performance and become the first woman to win an Olympic medal for Burundi.
East Africans, especially Kenyans, had a lot to be proud of as the athletics events continued last night in London. David Rudisha set a new world record to win gold in the men’s 800 metres (1:40.91).
« Rudisha’s run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories. I feel privileged to have witnessed it in London, » said Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 organizing committee, in a press release on the London 2012 website.
« I knew I could run 1:41, but breaking the world record was a different story, » said Rudisha. « To break the world record here is something special and I couldn’t believe it myself. »
Another Kenyan, Timothy Kitum, only 17, placed third in that race (1:42:53).
The race was exceptionally fast—the time of the eighth-place finisher (Andrew Osagie of Great Britain, 1:43.77) would have won gold at any of the last three Olympics, according to the London 2012 website.