Training at the refugee camp in Ngong, Kenya
Training at the refugee camp in Ngong, Kenya

The Kenyan middle-distance runner Tegla Loroupe, a five-time gold medal winner at the IAAF World Half Marathon, has opened a track and field centre at the Ngong refugee camp in Kenya, for those who are fleeing war.

Some of the young people training at the Ngong centre have already become champions in their own right and are participating in at the World U18 Championships of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in Nairobi, taking place from July 12 to 16. 

The young stars of the refugee team are Lydia Philip Mamun of South Sudan (400 m); Sunday Kamisa Peter, also of South Sudan (800 m); and Mohammed Ahmed Abubakar (1500m) of Ethiopia.The refugee team also recently received a visit by Sebastian Coe, the British former middle-distance running champion who is now president of the IAAF.

"Tegla first spoke to me (about her project) before the London 2012 Olympic Games," Coe said in a story reported on the IAAF website. "She had a vision, she delivered on that vision, and she took the team to Rio. We were very proud as the IAAF to contribute a modest sum of money," he said. 

International support

Loroupe showed Coe the new equipment at her centre in Ngong with a new gym that will be finished by year's end, as well as new accommodation and a small medical clinic. There are also cows and chickens at the camp to provide fresh milk and eggs for the athletes. 

Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in 1980 and 1984, said he has watched Loroupe's project grow. "Today was the example of passion, of vision and humanity," Coe said. "Develop your careers as well as you possibly can," Coe told the athletes, adding that "it's important to put back". 

He used Tegla Loroupe as the example of an athlete who finished her career and then "put back in a way that has given you the opportunity to pursue your careers".

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