• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite’s Niyonsaba posts second-fastest 800m of season


EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Francine Niyonsaba posted the second-fastest 800-meter time in the world this year with a runner-up finish at the Paris Diamond League meeting last Saturday.

Niyonsaba, the reigning Olympic silver medalist from Burundi, crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 55.86 seconds, just off her personal best of 1:55.47 set in Monaco last summer. She was the lone competitor to challenge South Africa’s Caster Semenya, whose winning time of 1:54.25 stands as the No. 4 performance in history.

“Impressive run by Francine,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “She has been nursing a hip problem, so I didn’t expect her to have such a good race given all of the interruptions to her training.”

Niyonsaba is scheduled to return to the track on Thursday (July 5) in the 800m at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, OTC Elite’s Andrew Osagie placed fourth in the 800 meters at the British Athletics Championships in Birmingham on Saturday. After winning his qualifying heat on Friday, Osagie finished just 16-hundredths of a second out of first place at 1:50.44.

“It was a tactical affair with a 56.8 first lap which does not suit Andrew,” Rowland said. “He came up just short in a very close finish.”

Osagie will now set his sights on the 400m in Lignano, Italy on July 11, followed by the 800m at the London Diamond League meeting on July 22.

Competing in his first race since the Pre Classic, OTC Elite’s Nijel Amos clocked a season-best of 1:44.18 to place second in the 800m at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial in Hungary on Monday.

“He was a little tired from travel and lack of sleep, but that was a nice run at this stage,” Rowland said. “He’s looking forward to settling into a routine before his next race.”

Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist from Botswana, will join Osagie in the next couple of weeks by competing in the 400m in Lignano and the 800m in London.

Closer to home, OTC Elite’s Ben Blankenship made his Butte to Butte 10K debut earlier today, with a 2nd place finish, in Eugene as he continues on his path to full recovery from a foot injury.

Speaking before the race Blankenship said "I was slated to do a longer workout and this was a chance to have some fun with it, I've never run Butte to Butte, but many great athletes have before. I'm looking forward to an over-distance race, especially one that involves this great community!"

Elsewhere, Harun Abda is entered in the 800m in both Spain on Thursday (July 5) and Lignano on July 11; Hanna Green is expected to make her international debut in the 600m on July 11 in Barcelona; and Hassan Mead will run the 3,000m in Barcelona in preparation for the 5,000m at the Diamond League meeting in London on July 22.