Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro got tangled up with two other runners in Saturday’s 3,000m women’s Olympic steeplechase and stopped to tear off her damaged right shoe and sock.
Diro, a 25-year-old who placed fifth in the event at the 2012 London Games, had been seen as a leading medal contender before her mishap.
She broke down in tears, leaving without speaking to reporters after failing to advance to the next round. Her time of 9 minutes 34.7 seconds was more than 20 seconds off her personal best.
Australia’s Genevieve Lacaze, who finished second with a time of 9:26.5 to qualify for the next round, complained that the mishap had obstructed the track.
“She was like a road block,” the 27-year-old said.
“Someone ripped out her heel and, instead of getting out of the way – I guess you don’t think about others too much when you’re in the Olympics – she just stopped and was a roadblock for about four girls.”