By Nick Butler

Somali Taekwondo Federation vice-president Eng Ahmed Kirish received the annual award ©Somalia National Olympic CommitteeSomali Taekwondo Federation vice-president, Eng Ahmad Kirish has received the Somalia National Olympic Committee's (NOCSOM) "Sport and Arts Award" for 2014.

The Award is part of a set of similar sport and art honours handed out by NOCs in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee.

The official was recognised at Wish Stadium in the heart of Mogadishu, with local athletes, fans, journalists, dignitaries and officials all in attendance for a ceremony which began with a handball match between local male and female teams.

NOCSOM secretary general Duran Farah then praised Kirish, an engineer by trade, for his "determined contribution to revitalising sports facilities and helping generate youth participation".

"I am very delighted on behalf of NOCSOM to announce that this year's Sports and Arts Award goes to Eng Ahmed Kirish," he said.

"He has made tremendous efforts to contribute the growth of Somali sports through his professionalism and devotion and helped our organisation to prosper."

"Mr Kirish is not merely the person who designed the first building owned by NOCSOM and most of sports facilities for Mogadishu's districts but he is also the vice-president of Somali Taekwondo Federation, which during his leadership made a huge improvement and won medals at international competitions for the country.

"We are very grateful to him for everything he has done for Somali sports community for the last twelve months."

Eng Ahmed Kirish was honoured in front of leading Somali officials in Mogadishu ©Somalia National Olympic CommitteeEng Ahmed Kirish was honoured in front of leading Somali officials in Mogadishu
©Somalia National Olympic Committee

Kirish was then presented with his award by NOCSOM President Abdullahi Tarabi, who expressed his gratitude and requested him to continue his involvement for the innovation of Somali sports as a whole, and taekwondo in particular.

"I am so delighted and honored to be part of this devoted community, and I would like to thank NOCSOM for this prestigious award, that will be in my memory for a long time to come," the delighted recipient said afterwards.

"I would also like to thank my colleagues, athletes and coaching staff of [the] Somali Taekwondo Federation for their co-operation, support and encouragement and I am sure that together we will achieve more in the future."

Although struggling due to the ongoing conflict on the East African nation in recent years - which saw former President of the NOCSOM, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and Somali Football Federation chief Said Mohamed Nur killed in a suicide bomb blast in April 2012 - there has also been sporting success.

The next aim will be for Somalia to have taekwondo participants at major international events, including the Olympic Games, after the country was represented only by two athletes at London 2012, the men's 1500 metres runner Mohamed Hassan Mohamed and women's 400m exponent, Zamzam Mohamed Farah, both of whom exited at the preliminary stage.

Somalia's best Olympic performance remains sixth place at Atlanta 1996 for 1500m runner Abdi Bile, a world champion over the distance nine years earlier at Rome 1987.

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