Somali Olympian drowns trying to reach Europe
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
August 21 - It has emerged that Somalian runner Samia Yusuf Omar, who competed in the 200 metres at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, drowned earlier this year trying to reach Europe.
Reports have emerged that the 21-year-old was on a boat trying to cross to Italy from Libya in April when it sank.
The head of the Somali Olympic Committee confirmed her death, although without elaborating on the details.
Although she finished last in her race in Beijing four years' ago, her participation was a remarkable achievement considering conditions in war-torn Somalia, with barely any athletics facilities as well as prejudice against women.
In preparation for Beijing Omar had often faced harassment from local militants who did not believe that Muslim women should participate in sporting activities.
She was roared to the finish line at those Games as she recorded a personal best time of 32.16sec.
Al Jazeera reported that Omar (pictured top) moved to Ethiopia apparently to find a coach to help her compete in this summer's Olympics, and Italian media reports suggest she may have tried to cross to Europe to find support there.
Corriere della Sera says that former Somali athlete Abdi Bile revealed Omar's fate when talking about the achievements this summer of Britain's Mo Farah.
Farah was born in Somalia but moved to the United Kingdom in his childhood, and this summer won two gold medals for his adopted country, in the 5,000m and 10,000m.