Division 1 track and field athlete Alahna Sabbakhan triumphantly defeated a man who challenged her to a foot race. In a video that has since gone viral with more than one million likes, the University of Virginia runner raced a friend of her boyfriend’s who “refused to believe that a woman could beat him in a race.”
She kept up with her competitor over the first half of the 400-meter race, who, as she noted in the video, “does not run.” However, after the first 200 meters, she accelerated to “finish hard, because that’s what you do as a track runner.”
The video shows Sabbakhan flying to the finish line as her opponent lags far behind. The 22-year-old athlete told TODAY that she found the rumors that her boyfriend’s friend thought he could outrun her “ridiculous.” But, as she was already planning to work out at a nearby track, she asked if he wanted to come along.
“He didn’t really know what to challenge me in. He was like, ‘Yeah, I could beat her in the 400’ — not realizing that that was one of the hardest track events and that was one of my secondary events,” she said.
The contender invited his family and friends to the racetrack that day. She believes that after the group witnessed her warm-up, which normally consisted of drills and jogging a mile, the outcome of the race was obvious.
“He just kind of showed up,” she said. “I don’t know what he was expecting.”
In the video, Sabbakhan observed that her 400-meter time of 57 seconds was “pretty good for practice,” given that the 800-meter race is her main event.
Her personal best times are 53 seconds for a 400m relay leg and 54 seconds for an open race, although she said, “It was a successful workout, I think.”
She claimed the man who had challenged her and with whom she is now “cool” handled his defeat gracefully.
“He wasn’t like, ‘Oh, that wasn’t fair.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I feel like it was just a really good learning experience. It showed people that they need to stop underestimating us—as in track athletes, female athletes,” she expressed.
Yet, Sabbakhan was forced to delete the comments on the TikTok page after they caused “controversy,” with some users converting it into a discussion over whether female athletes are superior to male athletes.
“They were saying, ‘You barely beat him; that just shows how slow you are. Now race one of your male teammates.’ Like, ‘Men are still stronger,'” she revealed. “I never said any of that.”
The young athlete said that since she started running at the age of five, this was not the first time a person of the opposite sex has challenged her skills.
“Ever since I was younger, a lot of guys would want to race me on the playground because they thought they could beat me,” she shared.
Nevertheless, Sabbakhan advises not comparing oneself to increase self-confidence in one’s athletic abilities.
“Focus on your journey and your progress and where you used to be and where you want to be, because it’s just going to waste your time and drain your energy to be focused on everyone else,” she added.