EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Francine Niyonsaba earned her first Diamond League victory of the season with a dominant performance in the 800 meters in Lausanne, Switzerland last Thursday.
The 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Burundi moved to the front of the pack early in the race and posted a winning time of 1 minute, 57.80 seconds, holding off American record-holder Ajee Wilson down the home straight.
“That’s one tough lady,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said of Niyonsaba. “She pretty much ran in front and towed the rest of the athletes to a fast time. She showed her competitive nature down the home straight as she refused to relinquish the lead.”
With the victory, Niyonsaba moved to the top of the 2018 Diamond League standings in the 800m with a total of 28 points through four events. Her next two 800m races are both Diamond League meetings: Friday (July 13) in Rabat, Morocco and July 20 in Monaco.
OTC Elite’s Harun Abda clocked a season-best mark of 1:46.67 in the 800m with a fifth-place finish in Guadalajara, Spain last Friday.
“Good to see progression on his best time for the year,” Rowland said. “Hopefully, he can use that as a platform to run quicker in his next race.”
Abda is scheduled to run the 800m in Lignano, Italy on Friday.
In other upcoming races for OTC Elite athletes, Nijel Amos will run the 400m in Lignano as a tune-up for the 800m in London on July 22; Hanna Green is entered in the 600m in Barcelona on Friday, followed by the 800m at the Morton Games in Dublin, Ireland on July 19; Ben Blankenship returns to Pittsburgh on July 20 to defend his title in the Liberty Mile. He is the reigning two-time champion in the race.