In 2016, Niyonsaba won the 800 meters at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2:00.01. Later that year, she carried the flag for Burundi at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. She concluded her competition with her first Olympic medal, a silver in the women’s 800m in a time of 1:56.49, behind Caster Semenya of South Africa.
Niyonsaba finished second in 800 meters seven race series of 2016 Diamond League. She improved her personal best to 1:56.24 at 2016 Herculis meet.
In 2017, Niyonsaba earned a new personal best and national record at the Monaco Diamond League after winning the 800m there in a time of 1:55.47, on July 21. With this time she was the World No. 1. heading into the 2017 World Championships in London.
At the World Championships in London she won a silver in the women’s 800m in a time of 1:55.92. She led throughout the majority of the race, but Caster Semenya used her phenomenal final kick to once again pass the Burundian on the home stretch and win gold.
Burundian runner Francine Niyonsaba, broke a world record on Tuesday. The 28-year-old set a new 2,000m record at a Continental Tour Gold meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, breaking the previous record by more than two seconds. Niyonsaba finished with a time of 5:21.26, surpassing Genzebe Dibaba’s 2017 record. Niyonsaba, a 2016 Rio Olympic Games silver medalist in the 800m, is one of the athletes banned by World Athletics from competing in women’s races from 400m to one mile in distance.
Francine Niyonsaba had a quick rise to prominence in 2012 while still a teenager. The first time she set the 800 metres record was in late June 2012 while narrowly winning the 2012 African Championships in Athletics in 1:59.11 in what was only her third competitive race. At that, she improved upon her own previous national record of 2:02.13, set in the qualifying round. In the opening round race, the inexperienced runner had opened up a 30 meters lead the pack. Three weeks later on July 20, 2012, she improved the record again to 1:58.68 while finishing second at the 2012 Diamond League meeting at Herculis.
During the 2012 London Olympics, Niyonsaba reduced her own 800m record to 1:58.67 on August 9, 2012 in the semi-final round. It was a 0.01 seconds improvement on her previous record. Two days later, she finished seventh (subsequently upgraded to fifth as a result of the doping disqualifications of Russian athletes Elena Arzhakova and Mariya Savinova) in the final. Less than a month later, she took the record down yet again to 1:56.59.