The women’s 1,500-meter final had a strange result at Sunday’s world track and field championship in Berlin, as Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez made a late surge and crossed the finish line first — only to be disqualified because part of that late surge included pushing past Ethiopian runner Gelete Burka, who fell to the ground and couldn’t finish the race.
Burka was the pre-race favorite, but she ended the race lying down on the track. Ultimately it was Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, who crossed the finish line second, who ended up winning the world title. Rodriguez went over to apologize to Burka immediately following the race, but she insisted afterward that she hadn’t intended to knock Burka down:
“I have a clear conscience, I know that I ran well,” said Rodriguez after learning she had been disqualified. “I saw a space down the inside and then Burka tried to close me out. There was some barging and then she fell. I did nothing wrong. “
“At about 150 meters, Gelete opened up a little and left some space open on the very inside of lane one. I tried to get by her, but as I tried she closed me down and forced me off the track. I was going to do the lap of honor, but all the stadium was whistling and the truth is it wasn’t very nice.”
The Spanish track team, however, felt upon viewing the replay that Rodriguez had, in fact, pushed Burka, and as a result decided not to appeal the decision.