There comes a time when you are stuck for words and just freeze. You freeze in awe and want to communicate to the subject. You are moved. You want to hug that person. You want to say God bless you.
When I first read about Somalian Samia Yusuf Omer the day after she ran the 200m race for Somalia, I was moved, choking and moving my head sideways. She was so motivational and inspirational. A model in a war-ravaged country. That she came in last is a fact and not news. But it is the impact she had on the spectators, her co-runners, people who read her story across the globe and Somalis like me that outweigh all the gold medals one hopes for. Above all, the biggest achievement is the feeling of a dream come true for Samia in going to the Olympics against all odds and raising Somalia’s flag in Peking at a time when Somalia appears to be forgotten.
Samia was born March 1991 on the eve of the war that brought an end to Siyad Barre’s rule. So she has never seen the normal life that had prevailed in her country. She is a civil war child. As she grew older, she developed an interest in atheletics in a very harsh enviroment. In a July 2008 pre-olympics interview she gave to the BBC, she describes the difficulties she faces in training, the insults she is subjected to as a female in a traditionally male dominated country where some of the factions look down to films, sports and music as evil hobbies and more so when it relates to a female.
Samia had competed in the 100 metre sprint at the African Athletics Championships in May 2008 finishing last in her first round heat.
At the Peking Olympics, she tried the 200m coming last with a time of 32.16 seconds. Was she very disappointed? Yes. How did she see the whole saga? This is what she said to an Australian Yahoo Sports Journalist:
“We understand we are not anywhere near the level of the other competitors here. We understand that very, very well. But more than anything else, we would like to show the dignity of ourselves and our country.”
As her story was wired across the globe, people poured their hearts out to her. Hunreds of comments were made as the story and other Samia bylines were webbed across. Hundreds of bloggers picked up the story and dedicated pages. American patriots, Japanese mothers, Icelandic students, Russian teenagers, Sports fanatices and everyone who read the story expressed his/her awe. There were even Samia dedicated forums and Youtube entries. Perhaps all had in common what one Canadian lady wrote: ” I cried. I can not continue. Hey Samia, keep on!”
I can only add God bless you Samai. Here is the link to the original story.