Habtemariam Nebiat, a 5,000-meter runner from Eritrean, has not left her hotel room since Thursday, when a borrowed and oversized vest failed to cover her breasts during qualifying.
“She was inconsolable. She was very ashamed because all the people saw her,” an unidentified Eritrean team official was quoted as saying by the Athens newspaper Ta Nea.
Television cameras focused on the distressed runner for long spells as she continued to run around the track 3 minutes after the winner had finished. Nebiat’s predicament was shown on the big scoreboard screens in the stadium and broadcast to millions of viewers around the world.
Nebiat, who was not wearing a bra, elicited loud whistles and cheers at Olympic Stadium as she was exposed for much of the race. In the last few laps, the 18-year-old runner tugged at her shirt in an apparent attempt to cover up, only to further expose herself.
She finished 3 minutes behind the winner.
It is the first time that Eritrea - a tiny and impoverished African nation of three million that borders Ethiopia - has participated in a world championship, and it was Nebiat’s first foreign trip.
The newspaper lauded Nebiat for showing the courage to ignore the whistling and continue the race.
He’s been saying it for over a year and now he’s finally done it. Former world and Olympic 100-meter champion Linford Christie said Saturday he had run his last race.
The 37-year-old sprinter, who has now turned to coaching, told the BBC that he had decided to retire from the track after finally losing the enthusiasm on which he once thrived.
“I woke up this morning and felt I didn’t miss the tension any more,” Christie said.
“I thought to myself ‘What’s the point in carrying on?”’
Lane one’s virtues debated
Jon Drummond and Rich Kenah have different thoughts on lane one. While it seemed to drag Drummond down in the 200 meters final Friday, Kenah used it as a route to a medal in the 800.
Drummond, expected to get the bronze medal in his first major international final, finished seventh after fading from third in the last 50 meters while running the inside lane.
“Lane one is a hard lane to run from,” said Drummond, who saw the medals go to Ato Boldon, Frankie Fredericks and Brazil’s Claudinai Da Silva. “I did the best I could from there.
“I thought that if I move slowly and make an attack off the turn I’d have something at the finish. But the turn was so tight, I had to exert more than I thought.
Kenah said he was out of medal contention in the 800 until Dutch runner Marko Koers made an ambitious move from the back.
“I kind of had fallen asleep a bit until Koers tried to go by everybody and woke me up and I realized there was not a whole heck of time,” said Kenah, who finished behind defending champion Wilson Kipketer of Kenya and Cuba’s silver-medal winner Norberto Tellez.
“When I started moving at first I didn’t know if I could catch him,” Kenah said. “Nine times out of 10, if you stay in lane one, it opens up.”