Ethiopian Athlete From Kakuma Refugee Camp Finds Hope in Running

“Running is my passion, it is something I really love to do and it is a way of life to me. It gives me hope and hope is life.”

Despite not qualifying for the Rio Olympics last year, 20 year old Kadar Omar is still determined to train and compete in the next Olympics.

Kadar Omar, is a refugee from Ethiopia, Oromo Community. Kadar and his family fled from Ethiopia in 2008.

He took part in the selection in Kakuma and he was selected to join the training camp run by Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in Ngong’, Nairobi. The training camp currently has thirty six (36) athletes, 6 are Kenyans and 30 are refugees from Kakuma, Dadab and Urban refugees.

Kadar runs in the 800 and 1500 metres races and he has been training at the camp in Ngong’ for a little over a year.

“Running is my passion, it is something I really love to do and it is a way of life to me. It gives me hope and hope is life.” He says.

Kadar hails from a country with renowned long-distance athletes, some of whom are his role models. “There are people who motivate me like the great Haile Gebrselassie and many others.”

“As a community in Ethiopia we practice running. It is not new to me. It is not new to us,” he added about his desire for running. “When I fled from Ethiopia and moved to Kakuma, I continued to run while in school. I also practiced in the fields in Kakuma camp even though people thought I was crazy because of the hot weather.”

Kadar has won many schools competitions in Kakuma. Unfortunately, he could not compete in the national school competitions because he only had his UNHCR documents and not a Kenyan birth certificate as per the requirements. “I did not participate in the national championships because of identity.” He said. “I fled from a country because of conflict. At this moment, I am here. I belong to this planet and I am a human being. Running is my passion and I have to do it. I did not give up.”

Kadar has taken part in athletics competitions in Kenya organized by Athletics Kenya and other local competitions and he is expected to participate in other upcoming marathons.

Kadar alongside Pur Biel and Anjelina Nadai of #TeamRefugees were recognized and honored by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) during the Changemakers Event in Uganda. He was also part of the Conference on Women in Sport event organized by the UNHCR and Cyprus National Olympic Committee in March this year alongside UN Person of the year, Tegla Loroupe.

According to the coach, “Kadar is among the best athletes in the training camp. He is a promising young athlete. He has greatly improved and he is also very disciplined.” Said Coach Joseph enthusiastically. “He is passionate about training fellow refugees in the camp and he should be supported in gaining coaching skills.”

Kadar was among the seven (7) athletes who took part in the training for coaches for Kids Athletics organized by the IAAF.

“I also intend to motivate other young talented refugees in Kakuma by training them even as I continue to train to become a better athlete,” said Kadar. “There are many talented athletes in the camp but do not have opportunities and facilities to train.”

Even as he continues preparing for the next Olympics, Kadar Omar, is also preparing for other international competitions such as the World Championships in London..

”I hope to become a successful athlete and a champion and to make a difference in my life through athletics.” He said with confidence.