Munirah Warsame hopes to become the first athlete to represent Somalia in taekwondo in the Olympic Games ©Twitter

Munirah Warsame has set her sights on becoming the first athlete to represent Somalia in taekwondo at the Olympic Games.

The 20-year-old, who competes in the under-49 kilograms category, was born in Britain after her parents fled the civil war in Somalia. 

But she is proud to be representing her parents' home country.

"Feelings of representing my country in the Olympics for the first time is unreal as I have dreamed about this my whole life since literally the age of six when I first started taekwondo," she told Voice of America.

"And also, it is such an exciting experience; I foresaw it representing my home country for my first at the Olympics and, inshallah [God willing], I will do myself and my country proud."

Warsame was among athletes from 18 countries who two years ago took part in the "Booyoung Dream Programme" organised by World Taekwondo in Muju in South Korea.

The programme, sponsored by Booyoung, offered athletes suffering from limited financial means the opportunity to visit South Korea to help their Olympic preparation training.

Somalia’s taekwondo coach Dudley Ricardo believes Warsame has boosted the programme in Somalia.

"The potential of the Somali national team is looking quite bright and promising," Ricardo told Voice of America. 

"I believe we have a small but strong current team with up-and-coming young team members, and we will be able to see much more results in future competitions.

"The only restraints we have is funding to allow the athletes' valuable ring time and more competitions and training camps."

Ahmed Issa, vice-president of the Somali Taekwondo Federation, hopes to use the Olympics as an opportunity to introduce the sport to more people in the African country.

"[The] Somali Taekwondo Federation is planning to recruit more youth to take the sport especially in universities, colleges, and schools," he said.

"We try to do our free training sessions and hire special coaches from the international level, so people are really interested to be part of [the] taekwondo sport."

Somalia made its Olympic debut at Munich in 1972 but did not compete again until Los Angeles 1984.

After missing Barcelona 1992, the country has competed in every Olympics since Atlanta 1996 but is still waiting to win its first medal.

The closest it has come to Olympic success is thanks to Sir Mo Farah, winner of four gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at London 2012 and Rio 2016, but for Britain after fleeing Somalia as a child to avoid the civil war.