Meet Lydia Philip Mamun, Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder and Olympic running hopeful

The IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holder has already competed in the World Athletics under-18 and under-20 Championships and is targeting the Tokyo Games in 2021.

By ZK Goh

Lydia Philip Mamun, an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship holder originally from South Sudan, would like to give back to her host community in Kenya in the future.

The middle-distance runner, who has competed at two IAAF age-group World Championships as part of World Athletics' refugee team, hopes to go into medicine.

"One day I'm going to be a doctor and I'll help members of my community and family," she told UNHCR in 2018.

But before that, she has the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021 in her sights, perhaps as part of the IOC's Refugee Olympic Team.

The 20-year-old fled from South Sudan to neighbouring Kenya as a young child during the civil war, when local militias arrived in her village.

She, her six siblings, and their father made it to the Dadaab Refugee Camp, located in the north-east of Kenya.

Although Mamun was told she was too young to join the camps' athletics camps, she kept applying and in 2016 was accepted into Tegla Loroupe's Peace Foundation Training Centre.

She and her compatriots were visited by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe in 2017, shortly before Mamun took part in the World U18 Championships that year in Kenya's capital Nairobi.

The following year, aged 17, she was part of the World Athletic's refugee team that participated at the World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

"I want to make my father very proud," Mamun told the UNHCR after the championships.

"And maybe I can help my brothers and sisters in the future. My father has been very supportive of my drive for running."

Now, a possible Olympic Games participation at Tokyo 2020 in 2021 could be on the horizon, and Mamun knows exactly who she wants to emulate: her hero, Caster Semenya.

And after running, perhaps a career in medicine awaits.