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‘No home, no flag and no national anthem’ – the first refugee squad at the World Athletics Championships

These are the refugees forced to flee their homelands due to war and persecution who make up the first ever team of displaced athletes to compete at the World Championships.

With “no home, no flag and no national anthem”, the five-strong squad competes under the banner of athletics’ governing body, the IAAF.

Two of them will be in action on Thursday with Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu, 18, and Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 22 — who both fled war in South Sudan as children — competing in the men’s 1500m and women’s 800m respectively.

They are keen to remind fans that they are athletes in their own right and had to achieve minimum race times required by the IAAF to qualify for the championships. Angelina Nadi, 23, who raced in the women’s 1500m heats on Friday, set a personal best while Ahmed Bashir Farah, 20, also achieved a personal record, finishing less than four tenths of a second behind the pack in the men’s 800m heats on Saturday.

After the competition, the team will return to their training camp home in the Ngong Hills, run by the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation.

The team was formed last February after founder and former long-distance runner Tegla Loroupe went into the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps where they once lived and held trials.

Last night Kadar Omar Abdullahi , 21, raced his hero Mo Farah in the 5000m heats, keeping pace with the pack and setting a personal best of 14.32.67. Farah’s time was 13.30.18, ensuring qualification in Saturday’s final, his last race before retiring from the track.

The athletes today told of wanting to inspire and highlight the plight of more than 65 million world-wide refugees.

All were separated from their families at a young age, with some still not knowing what happened to their relatives. Nathike Lokonyen found out only last week that her aunt had died as a result of the war in South Sudan.

The athletes and coaches have travelled to London thanks to flights and accommodation paid for by the IAAF. More than 25 refugees at the training base attempted to make the minimum times, with just the five qualifying. A refugee team competed at last year’s Rio Olympics, but this is the first time the five have competed at this level.

Founder Tegla Loroupe said: “Before we came we were received very well in Kenya by the British embassy. They made it very easy for us to come and compete and already we were made to feel at home by the British.”

Team manager Ladislav Demko, 43, a former triathlete, said: “Sport is a way out for them. When they step into the stadium, they don’t feel like refugees any more. These people literally ran away on their feet from fear of death.”

Ahmed Bashir Farah and his mother left Somalia when he was six and crossed the border into Kenya, where they found a home. But in 2014 his mother was deported, leaving him alone. Since then the athletics team has been like a family to the runner, who said: “We left because of the government situation there; there was no peace. My life has changed now that I can compete and I can see Mo Farah. He is my hero. It’s very emotional because I don’t know where my family are.”

Angelina Nadi was seven when she fled her native South Sudan. She has been in a refugee camp in Kenya since 2002. She said: “I went with a [distant] relative because the war broke out. I followed them to get to safety and for a chance to go to school. From that moment I lost contact with them [my immediate family]. Everything was destroyed where our house was.” She added: “I now have hope that one day I will attain the level of some of the other athletes.”

Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu remembers soldiers storming his home in South Sudan before his family decided to flee the country’s civil war. After becoming separated from his family, he found himself in an orphanage. He does not like to go into the detail of his hardship, but he eventually fled to a refugee camp in neighbouring Kenya where he met his teammates. He said: “It has been difficult because my family dispersed and I have not seen my parents since I left. Running means I have a future.”

Rose Nathike Lokonyen fled her home in South Sudan at the age of eight. She and her family went to a nearby town in 2002 but then she and her nine siblings became separated from her parents. They eventually made it across the border to Kenya. She said: “I left home with my younger siblings but not my parents. It is horrible back home. I found out my aunt was killed last week. It is not safe.”

But she added: “I feel very excited to be here in London. Sport has given me a better quality of life.”

Kadar Omar Abdullahi left his native Ethiopia with his uncle and brother aged 13 and travelled to a refugee camp in Kenya, but does not wish to share his story. He said: “Mo Farah is someone I Iook up to and one day I want to be like him. It was horrible growing up and I had a lot of challenges, but running is something that has given me hope. I don’t know why we left home, but there is no fear now and I hope one day I will be a champion and that my dream will come true.”

The refugee team also partnered with Swiss sports company On, who supplied them with running equipment, clothes to compete in for the championships and specialised training sessions.

Refugee athletes from Kenya to compete at World Athletics Championships in London for the first time

“I see myself competing one day one time in a higher level. Right now I am participating with the champions and now this is my time I have to polish my talent and to show people in the world that a refugee can make it.”

Anjelina Nadai (left), a member of the Refugee Olympic Team in the 1500m, and Rose Nathike, also a member of the Refugee Olympic Team in the 800m, run during a training session in which the Refugee Team joined the Kenya Athletic Team practice in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 25, 2017. ; The Rio Olympics in 2016 represented the first time in Olympic history athletes were able to compete in the games as refugees. Today UNHCR continues to work with refugee athletes across the world to ensure they have the same opportunities as those with a country to represent.

Refugee athletes from Kenya are heading to London to compete in the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Athletics Championships on August 4th. It is the first time in the 34-year history of the competition that refugees will take part.

Ahmed Bashir Farah, Anjelina Lohalith, Dominic Lobalu, Rose Lokonyen and Kadar Omar, will be participating under the Athletes Refugee Team.

The athletes are thrilled at the opportunity to compete internationally after months of training in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

19 year-old Ahmed who fled violence in Somalia with his mother and two sisters when he was just 9 years old, and has been refugee in Nairobi ever since, will compete in the 800 metres.

“I feel great going to London. We only have a few days left. I want run my best time and qualify for the next stage. You know this is my first big international race so it’s normal, you have to feel a little nervous and scared but once I’m on the field, the fear will leave me.”

Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation supports Paris 2024

Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation is very proud to support Paris 2024.
#Paris2024 #peacethroughsports #peacerace #teglaloroupe #kenia #worldchampion #marathon #Generation2024 #PARISIAN #OlympicDay #athleticrefugeeteam #VenezPartager #ParisParcOlympique #ReadyFor24 #JourneeOlympique

IAAF President Seb Coe at our Athletes Refugee Camp in Ngong

It was an Honour to receive IAAF President Seb Coe at our Athletes Refugee Camp in Ngong.
#peacethroughsports #teglaloroupe #iaaf #unhcr #refugees #athletes #camp #worldchampionships #ngong #paris2024 #worldsthleticsclub #kenia #nairobi #training #foundation #teglaloroupepeacefoundation

Amani-Mashinani 5 Km peace walk

Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in collaboration with Westwood Entertainment and Mtaani Radio 99.9fm held a peace walk at Dagoretti North and South.
Dubbed Amani-Mashinani 5 Km peace walk, it mobilized thousands including the youth, women, Government, security agents, leaders and people of all walks of life towards promoting peace during and after the elections 2017.
The participants passed through areas considered hot-spots such as St. Joseph Kangemi, 56 Kanugaga -Dagoretti North, Congo stage – Kawangware, and 46 stage. The caravan’s final point was at Riruta Satellite sports ground.
At all stop overs, Amb. Tegla Loroupe gave a message of Peace, Love and Unity to all Kenyans. “Lets Vote Peacefully, we are one Kenya, we are one Nation”.
#teglaloroupe #peacethroughsports #peacewalk #education #worldchampion #againstviolence #Kenya #teglaloroupepeacefoundation #unhcr #onshoes #athletes

The IAAF World Championships will take place from 4th to 13th August 2017 in London.

#WeAreAllOne
The IAAF World Championships will take place from 4th to 13th August 2017 in London. For the first time, a five-man team of refugees, the Athlete Refugee Team, who do not compete for any particular country, is also on the starting line. They are supported by the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation.
The Athlete Refugee Team is delighted to introduce its Sponsor, On, who have created our unique athlete kit for the upcoming meets in London.
On Instagram, sports fans can post moving sports photos using the hash tag #WeAreAllOne. Selected photos will be auctioned at an exhibition in London and proceeds will go to the Athlete Refugee team.
#TeglaLoroupePeaceFoundation #Running #Athletes #Refugees #WeAreAllOne #onrunnig #unhcr #peacethroughsports #London #worldchampionships

Welcome to Tegla Peace Foundation

Tegla Loroupe Peace foundation is an international humanitarian charity founded by Tegla Loroupe, a renowned international track and athletics icon. It is registered under the Perpetual Succession Act, CHAPTER 164, LAWS OF KENYA.