DAKAR (Reuters) – Nigerian Aminatou Seyni comes from one of the poorest countries in the world and knows the hurdles of her life. But as she prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 23-year-old faces new obstacles.
23-year-old Nigerian Aminatou Seyni, athletic sprinter with differences in sexual development (DSD), is taking part in her training session in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo at the African Athletics Development Center in Dakar, Senegal, on February 3, 2020 , REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra
Although Seyni drove the fifth fastest time at 400 meters last year, she may not be able to attend her favorite event as she refuses to take hormone suppressants for increased testosterone levels.
In 2018, World Athletics, the international sports federation, imposed a testosterone limit for races between 400m and 1mile, arguing that hyperandrogenic athletes enjoy an unfair advantage at these distances.
The rule, which also applies to the South African 800-meter double Olympic champion Caster Semenya, is likely to limit Seyni to the 200 meters in Tokyo.
"I'm a little sad because if I had run the 400 meters I could have won a medal, but for the 200 there are many athletes who are better developed," said Seyni, who wore a pink windbreaker and blue leggings a break from training in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Like Semenya, Seyni, who has a deep voice and strong body, refuses to take medication to lower her testosterone levels.
Semenya said treatment had made her sick at the beginning of her career, and she appealed a decision by the Sports Arbitration Panel (CAS), which complied with the World Athletics Rule.
Seyni was not allowed to compete at the World Championships in Doha over 400 m in November after only two runners drove faster times.
She reached the semi-finals in the 200 meters in Doha. She also aims to compete in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games.
Despite disappointment with the likely exclusion from the 400m in Tokyo, Seyni is determined to move to Niger, a dry West African country on the U.N. Human Development Index took last place to win the second Olympic medal since 1972.
"I just want to focus on the 100 and 200 to see how it works because it's different," she said. "I'll do my best to see if I can win a medal."
Letter from Juliette Jabkhiro; Edited by Aaron Ross and Ken Ferris