By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video of 20-year-old Somalian Nasra Abukar finishing beyond dead last in the 100-meter race at the World University Games in China. If you laughed or snickered at the absurdity of it all, you’re not alone, because it was ridiculous. Abukar didn’t even know how to set up on the starting blocks, but I guess good for her to see the sprint through to the finish line.
If my aunt or uncle had pulled some strings to get me a spot in a foot race against highly trained athletes, I would’ve not-so-politely declined, and asked them, “What the fuck?” The Somali Ministry of Youth and Sports issued a statement telling the Somalia Olympic Committee to suspend athletics federation chairwoman Khadija Aden Dahir, an alleged relative of Abukar who used her position to empower (embarrass?) her family member. Dahir has since been suspended by the Somalian Minister of Youth Sports, Barre Mohamud — who also apologized — amid nepotism claims.
“Khadijo Aden Dahir, the Chairwoman of the Somali Athletics Federation, has engaged in acts of abuse of power, nepotism, and defaming the name of the nation in (the) international arena,” Mohamud said in a statement posted online.
The World University Games is a biannual event featuring thousands of student-athletes, and as it’s filled with amateurs, there’s no prize money, thus little incentive to prop up a relative for an inevitable last-place finish. Perhaps it was Abukar’s dream, and Dahir granted that wish, because Somalia’s university union said it didn’t send any runners to China.
That fact also nullifies the possibility of it being a self-sacrifice for the betterment of the group like the Belgian shot putter who, due to an injury to a teammate, ran hurdles to preserve two points at the European Athletics Championships last month. No, this appeared to be a rogue operator who thought either the internet wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t care.
But the internet always notices, and always cares, especially if it’s something they can poke fun of and ridicule. Abukar wasn’t so much a benefactor of nepotism as much as she was a victim of it. Normally, the masses have zero empathy for the likes of Kendall Roy, Steve Belichick, Jeannie Buss, and the other nepo babies born on third base with a horseshoe up their asses.
Money, fame, or power are the tradeoffs for public failure and admonishment. After Bronny James’ 18th birthday, and up until his cardiac arrest about 10 months later, any and all criticism was fair game, because being LeBron’s kid comes with a nice perk package. The rationale is that their vulnerability doesn’t matter because they have a trust fund to fall back on after flaming out.
For Abukar though, what did she get? Infamy? A free trip to Chengdu? She might have a healthy inheritance already in her bank account, or waiting for her, but we don’t know that. All we know is she was foolish enough to line up next to top-tier athletes, or got talked into it, and now has a bunch of anonymous assholes piling onto her misfortune.
When I first saw the video of Abukar’s sprint, I was horrified. Why was she out there? How did she qualify? Who thought this was a good idea? Often, nepotism is employed with the best intentions, but rarely is it prudent, because eventually it becomes painfully obvious how ill-equipped and unprepared said relative is when up against people who actually earned their place.
Now, usually it takes longer than 20 seconds for that gap to manifest itself, but if ever there was a better visual representation of the risks of nepotism than Nasra Abukar’s 100-meter dash, I can’t think of one.