Gabbi Cunningham to Replace 100m Hurdles Favourite Brianna McNeal Ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021

Published 07/03/2021, 8:09 AM EDT


Brianna McNeal was shockingly handed a five-year ban from competing in the sport after a decision taken by the concerned authorities. The athlete was about to head to the Tokyo Olympics this year to compete in the 100m hurdles event, having already qualified. 

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Winning the Gold Medal in Rio 2016, McNeal was ready to defend the title in Tokyo before this grim news landed on her doorstep. She had reportedly missed her doping control in January 2020, which was the root cause of the ban. 

McNeal reasoned that she was recovering from an abortion, which was just two days prior to the scheduled date of the test. The athlete wanted to challenge the decision but The Court of Arbitration for Sport turned it down, forcing her out of the Olympics this year and probably the next edition as well.

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Since she is now out of the event, the next in line at the trial will take her place. That is none other than Gabbi Cunningham, who came in at fourth place at the 100m hurdles event. “Just received the call! I’m going to the Olympics,” she confirmed on her Twitter handle. 

Cunningham clocked in at 12.53 seconds, which was a personal best for her. However, she crossed the line in a cutting edge of a second later than Christina Clemons, who came also came in at 12:53. And the difference was as close as it gets. 

Keni Harrison finished first with a season-best timing of 12.47, defeating Brianna McNeal who clocked 12.51. With the second-place spot open, Clemons will move up while Cunningham gets to occupy third place.

Sha’Carri Richardson was also forced out of the Tokyo Olympics

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While the 110m hurdles event had major alterations, the women’s 100m sprint event also had its surprises. Gold medallist Sha’Carri Richardson was handed a one-month ban by the USADA after failing her marijuana test, ruling her out of the 100m event at Tokyo. 

EUGENE, OREGON – JUNE 19: Sha’Carri Richardson looks on after winning the Women’s 100 Meter final on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The decision is surrounded by a fiery debate over the logic of Marijuana being deemed as a performance-enhancing drug. With Richardson set to miss out on the event, Jenna Prandini, who finished fourth at 11.11 is expected to be called up in her place. 

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While the USA has lost its major hope for gold in the 100m sprint, other athletes aim to shine in their sports to bring home the prestigious medals from Tokyo. 

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Luke Dias

1496 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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