IOC Refugee Olympic Team runner Jamal Eisa Mohammed achieves dream at Tokyo 2020

The Sudan-born athlete did not qualify for the men's 5,000m final, but his performance achieved something beyond the realms of sport.

Jamal Eisa Mohammed has made his Olympic dream come true.

The IOC Refugee Olympic Team athlete finished 13th out of 18 in his men's 5000m heat in on Tuesday (3 August), with a new personal best of 13.42.98.

Despite the fact that he will not progress to Friday's final, he left the Tokyo Olympic Stadium with his head held high.

It was only eleven years ago that he left Sudan in fear of his life, without any kind of sporting background before that.

His goal on the athletics track was to inspire millions of displaced people around the world, and he has achieved exactly that.

READ: Jamal Eisa Mohammed completes long road from Darfur

Coming back stronger after adversity

In 2010, Jamal fled war-torn Darfur in Sudan, where his father had been killed seven years earlier by government-backed militia.

He made is across the border to Egypt, and eventually took refuge in Israel where he shared a one-room apartment with seven other immigrants. He found work as a painter meaning he could support his family in their refugee camp back home.

"When you see terrible things happen to you at a young age – things that are really much harder than what you might be going through at the moment – and you made it through them, it makes it easier to overcome obstacles. You know you’ll get through these things too." - Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed speaking to Haaretz

It was also in the Middle Eastern country, at a club for underprivileged children, that he discovered his talent for long-distance running.

In 2017, he earned an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship to allow him to train full-time, and his continual improvement saw him take part in the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. before his selection to the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020.

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

He wants 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."


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