The Washington Post

London 2012 Olympics: Somalian runners bring survival stories to Games

In the final days before the London Olympics, athletes will scout the fields, courts, racetracks, pools and other settings where they will try to win gold.

For the Somalian distance runners who will represent their country at the Games, the adjustment to running around a sparkling new track in a massive stadium will be especially jarring.

Mohamed Hassan Mohamed and Zamzam Ali Farah don’t train in a stadium. Their country doesn’t have one. And instead of running on a track, they run through the streets of their war-torn nation.

“We had nowhere to run and train except on the streets of Mogadishu at a time when the fighting was at its worst,” Farah told the Associated Press. “We still had to train and run, getting up very early in the morning, running past road blocks manned by armed militias. Sometimes the soldier on guard would mistake us for being suicide bombers or attackers, and order us to stop or they would shoot.”

Earlier this year the heads of the national Olympic committee and football federation were killed in a bomb blast that provided yet another obstacle to Somalia’s Olympic hopefuls.

Farah will run the women’s 800 and 1,500 meters and Mohamed will compete in the 1,500 and 5,000. All four events will be held at London’s new Olympic Stadium — a far cry from  crumbling streets flanked by terrorist militants.

Read the full story here.


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Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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