Somali woman athlete, drowned off Libya


This video is called Samia Yusuf Omar @ 2008 Beijing Olympics.

By Michal Boncza in Britain:

Dream graphically denied

Tuesday 8th March 2016

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar
by Reinhard Kleist
(SelfMadeHero, £14.99)

IN APRIL 2012 news broke that Somali Olympian Samia Yusuf Omar, who had made history four years earlier at the Beijing games, had drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe.

In Beijing she came last in the first round heat in the 200 metres but won a rousing standing ovation. Attired in casual leggings and a baggy T-shirt, her slight body and long stride became a symbol of extraordinary determination and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

But, most importantly, they were also a dismal reflection on the haves and have-nots of international athletics and, by implication, its entire governance.

Back in Somalia, with scant official support and facing harassment and intimidation by al-Shabaab fundamentalist thugs, she took the futile advice of looking to train in Ethiopia and later Djibouti. That set her on a migratory path to Libya with the hope of making it to Europe in time to train for the London Olympics.

Travelling overland with similarly desperate souls, all victims of ruthless, money-grubbing and abusive people-traffickers, she was thrust with them into unseaworthy vessels at gun-point. They were pushed out to sea to fend for themselves.

Reinhard Kleist, author of the memorable graphic biography Castro reviewed glowingly in the Morning Star, is — as this book shows — at the peak of his creative endeavour. This visual narrative that immortalises Omar is rendered with breathtaking vigour and passion. The draughtsmanship is masterly, with every brush stroke eloquently descriptive and invoking admiration, pity and often revulsion.

Kleist knows better than most how pictures are worth thousands of words and the story of the runner has the urgency of her dash to make it in time for the dream of a second Olympics.

But his words are equally weighted and to the point when evoking human aspiration and solidarity or even the vilest inhumanity.

At a time when the French authorities have decided to investigate the shenanigans within the Olympics movement and thousands will be forced into rickety boats off Libyan and Turkish coasts, Kleist holds an uncompromising and unsentimental mirror to the West’s ugly face.

Compulsory reading for every secondary-school pupil, anywhere.

The story of Samia Omar, the Olympic runner who drowned in the Med. As the Somali team prepares for Rio, the memory of this 21-year-old – who died trying to find safety and coaching in Europe – looms large: here.

Western powers prepare military operations in Libya: here.

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