Belgium are out of the hurdlers. So shot-putter Jolian Bumkwo agreed to run.

The runner was in lane 2, and she was hard to miss: Belgium’s Jolene Boomkwo was a head above all the other women in the second heat of the 100-meter hurdles.

Boumkwo continues to compete in track and field strength events β€” shot-put, hammer throw and discus β€” but needed a hurdler at Saturday’s European Team Championships in Krakow, Belgium. Any obstacle player.

Both of those who brought it to the meet were injured, and if Belgium had not sent a runner to the starting line in the 100 hurdles, its team would have been disqualified.

So when it became clear that there were no other candidates, Boumkwo stepped forward.

“I thought my chances of doing this were slim,” said Boumkwo, who learned to run the hurdles the day before the race. Once it became clear she was going to be on the starting line, she said she tried not to think too much about it.

“If I’m going to do this, I want to do it well and try to enjoy it,” she told herself.

It seems that is exactly what she did. As he was introduced to the other runners, Pomkwo beamed and waved at the television cameras.

Form is not her priority. Bumkwo, 29, said in a telephone interview on Monday. On Friday, he placed seventh in the shot put.

Pomkwo said she wasn’t nervous about the race. “It’s a beautiful atmosphere,” he said. “I took my racing seriously,” she said, “and took it through the hurdles.”

While he was very happy with the role he played for his team, he said he would stick to his own game for now. “I wasn’t built for prohibition,” he said.

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Belgium needed every point. Its team was hoping to remain in the first division of the European Team Championship, an event where countries compete against their cousins ​​in three leagues based on performance. Disqualification would most likely mean relegation for Belgium. She knew that running, even if she finished last, would mean two valuable points that would make the difference.

So, one afternoon, Boumkwo became an obstacle. Stepping rather than jumping over each obstacle, then jogging to the next, she took her time. The rest of the field had already crossed the second hurdle and sped towards the next, when Boomkwo very carefully raised his foot on the first leg.

Her goal was to finish no matter how long it took, and finish on foot. An embarrassing fall wouldn’t have made a difference – she knew she’d be the last – but an injury would certainly have made things worse. Careful and calm, he cleared every obstacle and crossed the finish line in 32.81 seconds.

The crowd applauded and cheered. A fellow runner, Maja Maunsbaugh of Sweden, greeted Pomkwo with a double-handed high-five as he crossed the line. Catarina Queiros of Portugal, who ran in the lane next to Boumkwo, extended a congratulatory hand.

Seventh-placed Maunsbach and sixth-placed Queiroz both finished fractions of a second ahead of heat winner Teresa Errandonia of Spain. He won in 13.22 seconds.

The storybook for Pomkwo and Belgium is far from over. Belgium finished 14th in the team standings, 6.5 points behind Greece – a gap that even Bumkwo could not close – and Downgraded to Division 2.

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Boumkwo said the layoff was disappointing but overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. “It was probably my best European Championship,” he said. “I got a good thing out of it.”

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