Refugee athlete runs with hope in London

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London: Refugee athlete Angelina Nadi said she had made great improvement at the London world championships one year after she competed at the Rio Olympic Games, both in sporting performance and her life.

Nadi finished last in the the women’s 1,500m heat 3 in London but her time of 4:33.54 was no doubt a big progress compared to her 4:47.38 in the Rio Olympic Games where she was a part of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I have great improvement compared to the one I had in Rio. I was so happy and I have hoped only to do better in the future,” said the 24-year-old, originally from South Sudan.

As one of millions of refugees, Nadi once saw her life sink into hopelessness after she was forced to be seperated with her parents at eight amid ravaging war and stay in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. She took up running there and never thought the sport could turn out to be the savior.

When professional coaches came to Kakuma to hold selection trials for a special training camp, Nadi won the opportunity to compete for the Refugee Olympic Team, selected by the International Olympic Committee, in the women’s 1500m at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In Rio, Nadi placed 40th out of 41 runners in Round 1 of the event and stood no chance of advancing but the Olympics was a life changing experience for her.

“I never thought that I would be able to go and compete somewhere like Rio,” she said in a UN Refugee Agency interview after the Games. “It has really made my heart to be open because before I participated in sports, I couldn’t know that I can be somebody who can do something which can be recognized by the world.”

Running opened Nadi’s eyes. In London, she still competed with the refugee team consisting of five athletes, but with hope and confidence.

“I hope I will never give up. I just wish to continue training more and I believe I will be like them (the rest of the athletes),” she said after her race on Friday when the world championships kicked off.

Nadi was aware that her being in the competition sent positive messages to people in misery.

“When I was competing I wasn’t competing on my own. I believe when I am competing someone like me is watching. I give them a lot of hope,” she said.

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