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Somali athletes ready for London Olympics

Monday, July 16, 2012

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MOGADISHU - Following months of strenuous and sometimes dangerous training sessions in Mogadishu, one of the lawless cities in the world, two Somali Olympic hopefuls are now ready to compete in London Games.

The duo, Zamzam Mohamed Farah and Mohamed Hassan Mohamed Tayow, have been selected by the Somali Athletics Federation after they qualified for the Games in local competitions and deemed the best that could present the war ravaged horn of Africa nation.

"The athletes have been trained for six months," Ahmed Ali Abikar, coach of the Somali athletes told Xinhua in Mogadishu.

Abikar said the athletes are now ready for the challenge and expressed hope that the duo will do better at London Olympics unlike the previous Games when Somali athletes came last.

"We don't want to be the last this time around just like the previous seasons but we want to come at the forefront of the competitions," Coach Abikar said.

The two Somali athletes have been through rigorous training along the bullet riddled street of the Somali capital and had to brave the explosions and attacks by Islamist group of Al-Shabaab against Somali government and African Union troops.

Zamzam Farah who will take part in the women's 400 meters race, said her long and daily training sessions will help her in London Olympic Games.

"It was tough but we had to do this because of our country. We had to go through the most unimaginable places in Mogadishu for running through the city streets in early morning and in the afternoon," said 18-year old ZamZam Farah.

The Somali Athletics Federations is responsible for the selection and training of the athletes and officials said they had to do up with the most basic equipment to train the Somali athletes.

Most of the country sports facilities have been destroyed through the two decades of conflict and neglect.
Only one stadium has been partially repaired but the scars of 20 years of conflict are very visible on the concrete steps used as the seating for the spectators.

Mohamed Mohamed, the second Somali athlete who will take part in the men's 1,500 meters run, said their participation is more than getting medals. He said it is about showing to the world that Somalia is more than wars, famine and drought.

"As the athletes taking part in London Olympics on behalf of Somalia, we hope to bring a big victory for our country unlike in previous years Somalia was known to come at the last. This year will be different because we have put in a lot of training and effort. God willing Somalis will be at the forefront of the races for the entire world watching to see in Britain and elsewhere," the 19-year-old Mohamed said as he was practicing in Mogadishu.

Somalia has been taking part in every Olympics since the country's government collapsed in 1991.

The Somali Olympic Committee, which has lost its head and that of the Football Federation in a suicide bomb blast early in the year, managed to organize sports events in the capital, Mogadishu, and in other provinces.


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