International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President meets with refugee athletes in Kenya
“I aspire to be like Mo Farah. I am a big fan. My goal is to run with him in future. He is a good athlete, the way he runs and his style inspire me a lot.”
The President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Sebastian Coe, has met with refugee athletes at the only professional sports training facility for refugees in Kenya. The visit took place ahead of the start of IAAF Under 18s World Championship on July 12-16, in the capital, Nairobi.
Three of athletes Mohamed Ahmed from Ethiopia, Sunday Kamisa and Lydia Mamun from South Sudan will be competing in the 1500, 800 and 400 metres.
During the meeting Mohamed told the IAAF President what competing at the World Championship meant to him. “I am happy I got the opportunity to participate in the under 18s competition because I have been training very hard.”
This is very special. We know you have gone through difficulties in your life and we wish you the very best beyond your athletics careers. I am very proud of everything you’ve achieved.
The IAAF President explained his support for the Athletes. “I think it is extraordinary. I’m actually struggling to find words to fit the occasion. I saw refugee athletes compete in Rio. You do not really get to appreciate the work they put into it until you come and see them training in a place like this.”
“We will continue to support them and drive towards the sport recognition to reach out to other communities. It doesn’t alter the global situation but I’m proud of the role my sport has played.” Said Mr. Coe.
In a further show of support to develop the inclusion of refugees in sport, the IAAF is supporting five of the athletes to travel to London in August to take part in the IAAF World Championships.
Athletes like 22 year old Angelina Nadai from South Sudan is among those going to London for the championships. She also competed at the Rio Olympics last year, which was a historic event for refugees – as the first ever refugee Olympic team took part.
“I am looking forward to participating in the IAAF Championships in London and I look forward to meeting with the champions I competed with in Rio.” She said. “I have improved since Rio. My time was 4:47 and now I am at 4.42. I am running in the 1500m and God willing I will win.”
I aspire to be like Mo Farah. I am a big fan. My goal is to run with him in future.
Kadar Omar, a refugee from Ethiopia will also compete in the 500 metres event, and hopes to take on the British Olympian, Mo Farah he says.
“This is like a dream come true because I have been working on this for almost 3 years. I did not give up. I aspire to be like Mo Farah. I am a big fan. My goal is to run with him in future. He is a good athlete, the way he runs and his style inspire me a lot.”
The President addressed all the athletes and assured them of his support during championships.
“We will do what we can to support you. This is very special. We know you have gone through difficulties in your life and we wish you the very best beyond your athletics careers. I am very proud of everything you’ve achieved.”
Telga Loroupe runs the training facility and holds world records for long distance marathons and runs the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation. With the support of the IAAF and UNHCR, she has been instrumental in getting refugee athletes to compete in Kenya and the upcoming London event.
“I am grateful to the IAAF and UNHCR for supporting these young Refugee Athletes. My own difficulty background made me not to lose hope. This is what’s inspired me to encourage refugee athletes.”
Raouf Mazou, Country Representative for UNHCR in Kenya described the importance of organizations like the IAAF and TLPF working together to create opportunities for refugees to compete in sport. “This broadens the recognition of this training camp and this initiative.”
“Organizations such as the IAAF are important for advocacy – talking about refugee issues and giving refugees opportunities to participate in more competitions. The refugee athletes also need support to get education opportunities and proper training facilities.”
The IAAF funds the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation which initiated the Olympic refugee team concept in 2014.