"I have a lot of work to do" -  Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed is gearing up for the biggest race of his life

The IOC Refugee Olympic Team athlete momentarily allowed himself to celebrate being named to the team and is now fully focused on being at his best for his Olympic debut

By Sanjeev Palar

Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed needed a few hours to realise what just happened.

The Sudanese runner who currently lives in Israel was named to the IOC Olympic Refugee Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. He will make his Olympic debut in the 5000m.

"I was in shock. Dreams [do] come true. I was so high, it's unbelievable" Mohammed shared exclusively with Olympics.com after learning of his selection to the team. "I was screaming, saying to myself, 'Man, I've made it now''"

But after his initial burst of joy, his mind switched back to the greater task ahead of him.

"Just let me put the work in. I have a lot of work to do to show my people that everything is possible" - Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed to Olympcs.com

Mohammed had to endure a challenging journey from fleeing Sudan to seeking refuge in Israel to discovering running.

He hopes that this latest milestone will serve as a great example to other.

"Sport impacted my life from zero to one hundred," the 26-year-old shares. "My life has changed a lot. I get to travel around the world to go for competitions, to go for training camps in other countries. It's just like a dream come true."

Mohammed intends to make the most of the opportunity he has in Tokyo, "I know I have a lot of work to do here, but that's in my mind nowadays, nothing else."

"I'm not just going to just show up, I'm going to represent for real. And do my best." - Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed to Olympics.com

He want to be a source of inspiration for other displaced people around the world and shares that the most important thing for them to remember is to "Not give up and everything will be possible."


Running for more than just one flag

Mohammed still recalls the last time he hugged his mother in person. It was on September 30th, 2011. The very same day, he fled Sudan.

With the help of his brothers still in Sudan, Mohammed is able to video call his mother from time to time. But she will not be watching him race at Tokyo 2020, "My mom doesn't know anything about the Olympics, doesn't know anything about running," he confesses.

Despite his frequent explanations, it remains a concept that neither she nor his sisters have been able to grasp.

However his brothers are thrilled that there will soon be an Olympian in the family. His younger brother is hoping to follow in his footsteps. Maybe they will even compete together at the Games one day.

"Thank you to all the people who thought to give the refugees a chance and show us the love." Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed

When he and the rest of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team walk into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony, Mohammed hopes that people around the world will see "a lot of people realising their dreams by coming to the Olympics."

At the same time, he intends to provide further encouragement to other refugees watching around the world, "I hope it opens their eyes to see that they too can do it."

With not long to go, Mohammed is beginning to grasp just how big that moment before his race will be in Tokyo.

"When I take to the start line, I'm going to be representing a lot of countries and a lot of people."

"I'm going to represent the Refugee Olympic Team, I'm also going to represent Israel as well as Sudan."

Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed will compete in the men's 5000m on 3 August with the first heat of the event starting at 7:00pm (local)


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