19-year-old Joe Fahnbulleh takes 5th in Olympic 200M

Joe Fahnbulleh, a 19-year-old track star who graduated in 2019 from Hopkins High School in Minnesota, took fifth place in the men’s 200 meter Olympic final Wednesday. 

Running in lane eight, Fahnbulleh was the second-youngest in the race for gold and he finished the 200 meters in 19.98 seconds, just 0.38 seconds behind the gold medal winning Andre de Grasse, of Canada. 

In April 2021 while competing for the University of Florida, he had the second-fastest collegiate 200m time in the United States of America, but said he was just doing his job. “[Being] number two doesn’t mean anything to me. My hard work will not get paid off until I win a national title. Don’t praise me for doing my job correctly.”

He also received ‘shout-outs’ on Instagram from South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, US sprinter Josephus Lyles and US field athlete Will Claye, but again said he was just doing his job. “I had no idea I was given a shout-out by Wayde, that’s cool. It feels good to be recognised by other world-class athletes and peers. Again don’t praise me for doing my job correctly.” (, 21 Apr 2021)

His parents emigrated from Liberia to the United States of America. “I think I get all my speed from my mum, but I have my dad’s legs.” .Fahnbulleh represented Liberia in the final. Two Americans, Kenny Bednerack and Noah Lyles, took second and third, respectively. 

Fahnbulleh’s time in the Olympic final was 0.01 better than his personal record at the University of Florida. His top time while in high school at Hopkins was 20.69 seconds. 

He won the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships gold in the 200m and bronze in the 100m while in high school. He won the MSHSL State Track and Field title in the 200m in 2018 and 2019, also finishing fourth in the 2019 state triple jump. He owns the state record in the 200m. 

Fahnbullah was named the 2019 National High School Coaches Association National Senior Boys’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year. 


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