Thursday, August 28, 2008

Somalia Olympic Athlete Samia Yusuf Omar

The Beijing Olympics are over, but the motivational stories keep coming. The nation of Somalia, located in the Horn of Africa, is a war torn nation. With it's battered capital of Mogadishu. Out of this rubble and anarchy, the troubled nation managed to send two athletes to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

One of which is named Samia Yusuf Omar, to participate in the women's 200 meter dash. Samia lives with her family in a two room house in Mogadishu where the family sells fruits and vegetables to earn a living. While she subsisted on a diet of flat bread, wheat porridge, and water.

Training for the event was challenging for Samia. Mogadishu stadium offered the only running track for her to practice. However it was taken over by the insurgents and made into a military compound. The other stadium is Conie Stadium built in 1958, no track, endless divots, weeds and plants. Not hospitable to practice a track and field event. Samia then had to train by running the streets of Mogadishu. A city torn by war and in complete anarchy. As Samia would run she would be harassed and verbally abused by men who would say she was dressed inappropriate for a woman. Also women should not be participating in sports. In an attempt to reduce the criticism and threats, in that oppressive heat, Samia would wear a head scarf, long sleeve shirt, and sweat pants to run the streets.

Samia was determine to attend the Olympics, not to earn a medal, but to waive the flag of her nation for the world to see that the land of her birth is represented at the Olympics. The hardship of living in Somalia, and the violence did nothing to diminish the patriotism this brave woman has for her country. Waving her nation's flag was her goal at the Olympics illustrating her pride.

How many of us live in a pampered nation and do not appreciate it? Most of us with access to YouTube live a rather comfortable live compared to Samia Yusuf Omar, but how many of us have her spirit and patriotism?

When she ran her 200 meter dash, the locals in her neighborhood scrambled to locate a television to watch her performance. Samia came in last in this event as she was the slowest. Her heart and pride came in first, as it was the most impressive.

Here are two links to two articles about this spirited athlete:

Music played during the photos of Samia Yusuf Omar, is the national anthem of Somalia.

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