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Samia Yusuf Omar: the little girl who could (maybe, someday)

Posted on the August 28th, 2008

Just like a lot of other people, I love to watch champions. But I find the story of an underdog equally irresistible, so when I saw the moving photo of 17-year-old Samia (Samiya) Yusuf Omar accompanying a recent article about her by Charles Robinson on Yahoo! Sports, I clicked to read (“Somalia’s runners provide inspiration” Aug 24, 2008).

Sports writer Robinson pours a bit of his own heart into telling the story of the young runner Samia. Introducing the piece as the Olympic story we never heard, he writes:

It’s about a girl whose Beijing moment lasted a mere 32 seconds – the slowest 200-meter dash time out of the 46 women who competed in the event. Thirty-two seconds that almost nobody saw but that she carries home with her, swelled with joy and wonderment. Back to a decades-long civil war that has flattened much of her city. Back to an Olympic program with few Olympians and no facilities. Back to meals of flat bread, wheat porridge and tap water.

The race Samia lost, how and why she lost it, and the reaction of the spectators in the Olympic stadium, as Robinson recounts it, seem like something straight out of a heart-melting Disney movie. Who knows, someday it may be. You can read the article here.

BBC News also has a story featuring an interview with Samia (“Against the Odds: Samiya Yusuf Omar” July 21, 2008).

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