With the spectacle in Rio days away, millions of sport enthusiasts will tune in and watch with pride what promises to be 17 days of the biggest stage a Country can pride itself with representation at a Global stage.
Have a conversation with an Olympian about what motivates them to put in the days, weeks, years of dedication and sacrifice, and at some point you’ll hear something along these lines: I want to represent my country on the world’s biggest stage.”
This morning (Tuesday), a Turkish Airline plane carrying the Somali delegation headed by Khadijo Aden Dahir, the President of Somali Athletic Federation and Coach Mohamud Adow Nur will take off from Aden Ade International Airport. Cruising at 38,000 feet above sea level, the contingent of four shall make their first stop in Dubai later in the afternoon, then to Istanbul after which they will take a connecting Flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil and finally join other Olympians at the Olympic Village.
Rio Olympics launches at midnight next Saturday with an opening ceremony directed by City of God’s Fernando Meirelles. Previous Games have tended to have a figurehead: Cathy Freeman at Sydney 2000, Liu Xiang at Beijing 2008 and Ennis-Hill at London 2012. This time the field is more open, in part because Brazil doesn’t have any track stars of its own.
The field is even bigger and I predict more stars will be born; there will be familiar names like Usain Bolt’s last games and hell want to make a show stopping exit while Mo Farah will again attempt a blistering 5,000-metre and 10,000-metre double. As the Plane carrying the two officials and two athletes Mohamed Da’ud Mohameed and Maryan Nuh Musse touches down, the message ringing in their head shall be perhaps a word of encouragement from His Excellency the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud during a luncheon hosted in their honor at the Villa Palace Monday- They will surely represent Somalia in the 9th Edition since 1972.
Somalia has been represented in 1972 Munich, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1996 Atlanta Georgia, 2000 Sidney, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London and now 2016 Rio. In Atlanta Georgia, Somalia was represented by four Athletes unlike the rest. However, Somalia did not take part in 1976 Montreal Games and 1980 Moscow Games.
“We do not have qualified athletes at their personal timing as required by the International Olympic Committee. However IOC allows a Country to send two athletes one female and one male to represent it. The good news is that if one of the representing athletes makes a record, the country enjoys added number in the subsequent events,” said Hussein Hadafow, Goobjoog Sports editor.
HONOR OF FLAG BEARER
Mohamed Da’ud Mohameed and Maryan Nuh Musse —will represent Somalia in the 5,000 and 400 meters, respectively in Rio. One thing is certain Mohamed and Maryan will feel the rush of joy, pride, humility and honor of carrying their Country’s flag at the world stage.
The modern Olympic Games were first held in 1896 as a festival for young men to display their athletic prowess. Rio Olympics will be the 9th time Somalia has taken part in the spectacle.
For 17 days in Rio de Janeiro, starting with the opening ceremony Friday night, Somalia will be on (almost) equal footing with the rest of the World. BBC will tell their stories, their races will be shown in prime time — Rio is 6 hours behind the East Africa Daylight Time — and their names will appear in newspaper headlines, blogs, websites from north to south, east to west. Somalis across the globe will have their fingers crossed, a heart throb and a burst into celebration when Mohamed and Maryan cross the line.
IN HONOR OF SAMIA YUSUF OMAR
Samia burst onto the International scene during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she competed for Somalia in the 200-meter race. Sadly the 19-year-old then, Samia died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe in the hopes of getting closer to her goal of competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Samia’s remarkable story is that of determination and resilience. In 2010, the boat carrying Samia ran out of fuel, Samia failed to grab a rope tossed by an Italian Navy ship rescuer and drowned and right there her dreams were gone. Samia had begun her journey from Somalia through Ethiopia, Sudan, and Libya.
Fast-forward more than five years later her dream lies in the shoulders of Mohamed and Maryan. The Summer Olympic Games are here, Somalia may not fly to Sao Paulo with its names embroiled in the plane like BA2016 flight number, a special Chartered aircraft whose nose has been painted gold to fly team UK. The hope is in the resilience, the promise to achieve Samia’s dream.
I WILL BE WATCHING OUT FOR
Mardini, 18, is one of a 10-strong refugee team competing in Rio. The Syrian, who left her country for Germany in 2015, a 25-day journey that required her to swim in the Aegean, will compete in the 200m freestyle.
The 30-year-old fencer is the first American to compete at the Olympics in a hijab. Outspoken on Islamophobia, she was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People for 2016.