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A Belgian athlete finished the 100m hurdles at the European Athletics Team Championships almost 20 seconds after the rest of the field this week in Poland – yet was roundly applauded for her efforts after stepping in to save her nation’s team.
Jolien Boumkwo is a hammer throw and shot-put athlete in more normal circumstances, but put herself forward for the good of the team when Belgium’s two rather more established hurdlers, Anne Zagre and Hanne Claes, were both injured.
At the European Championships, points are awarded for every competitor and event so Boumkwo added to her nation’s tally by competing.
And more than that, Belgium would have been disqualified had no athlete competed in the event.
Boumkwo had already competed in the shot put on Friday, finishing seventh, before quite literally stepping forward to run for her nation.
The 29-year-old finished the race without knocking any of the hurdles down in 32.81 seconds, 19 seconds after Spanish sprinter Teresa Errandonea who won with 13.22. Boumkwo was applauded by the audience and congratulated by her rivals as she earned two points for the team.
She holds the national record of 17.09m for shot put, achieved in 2016.
The points earned could prove crucial as the bottom three countries will be relegated from Division 1.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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