Zamzam Ali Farah and Mohamed Hassan Mohamed. These two young athletes have arrived in London to represent their country – Somalia. Zamzam will compete in the Women’s 400 meters while Mohamed will sprint in the Men’s 500 and 1500 meters.
"I am very much excited", says a smiling Zamzam. She adds, "It’s unimaginable that I am coming from a country destroyed by 21 years of conflict to compete with serene, peaceful and developed countries that have never seen war." She has a right to claim this. The two of them have ‘trained’ by running every morning in the crumbling streets of Mogadishu where bullets could prove to be deadly hurdles.
Aden Yabrow Wiish, Olympic Committee President for Somalia, died in a suicide bomb attack in April. The country has not had a steady government since 1991, and attacks from al-Shabab, a group linked with the dreaded al-Qaeda, keeps killing innocent people. Both Zamzam and Mohamed have lost family members in these attacks.
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There are no stadiums left in the country for the athletes. So the determined duo would turn up at the abandoned Conis Stadium for work outs and run through the debris of gunfights on the roads. "Finally we have come to this day when our dream to go to the Olympics has come true," said Mohamed. "I need to tell the world that Somalia is alive and kicking and that I have come to carry the flag of my people."
The pride and determination of the refrain ‘Somalia is alive’, is echoed by Zamzam. The two athletes walked with the rest of the world at the opening ceremony on Friday night.
Grit and dreams have brought them further than most athletes in cozy facilities can ever imagine.