Track & Field

Belgian shot-putter goes viral for running hurdles to save team from disqualification

Jolien Boumkwo was applauded on social media after stepping up for Belgium at the European Team Championships

Jolien Boumkwo pictured in action in the 100-meter hurdles race at the European Athletics Team Championships, in Chorchow, Silesia, Poland, Saturday 24 June 2023.

While track and field is mostly filled with individual events, there's still a sense of team within the sport. That much was on full display at this past weekend's 2023 European Team Championships in Poland.

Belgium was faced with a major issue on Saturday when the team's two hurdlers were unable to race in the women's 100m hurdles due to injury. If Belgium didn't have any athletes partake in the race, the country would have been disqualified.

With her team needing someone to step up, shot put and hammer throw athlete Jolien Boumkwo answered the call.

After finishing seventh in the shot put on Friday, Boumkwo ran the 100m hurdles for Belgium. The 29-year-old carefully stepped over each hurdle en route to a last-place finish of 32.81 seconds, over 19 seconds slower than the winning time.

But, most importantly, Boumkwo earned two points for Belgium, which was fighting to avoid relegation from Division I, and saved the country from disqualification.

"My team is the most important thing for me," Boumkwo told French international news agency AFP. "I couldn't let it happen to lose by one point. That's why I considered taking part in 100m hurdles. There was no risk for me if I took it calmly."

Boumkwo was all smiles before, during and after the race, even receiving some high-fives from her competitors. Video of the race went viral on social media as Boumkwo was applauded for her positive attitude and teamwork.

Belgium was ultimately relegated to the second division with a bottom-three finish at the European Team Championships, but that doesn't make Boumkwo's moment any less awesome.

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