The other runners were kneeling and resting by the time Maryan Nuh crossed the finish line in her heat of the Women’s 400 meters on Saturday.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ( Washingtonpost + AFRICASPORTS.NET) – World class athletes are not supposed to get props just for their effort. But Somalia’s Maryan Nuh Muse should be that exception.
On Saturday morning, she could not keep up with her heat in the first round of the Women’s 400 meters. So behind the rest of her peers, she didn’t stay within the frame of the NBC wide-angled cameras. Her time — 1:10:14 seconds — would not have even qualified for the Maryland high school girls’ 2A state finals.
She finished 57th out of 57 and yet, she was still called an “inspiration.” Because she is.
Muse, the 19-year-old who ran her race covered from head to toe in a sky blue head wrap and black leggings, continued a recent tradition of Somali athletes, particularly female, who defy the odds of their country’s conditions to appear in the Olympics.
Maryan Nuh Muse
She trains inside a stadium in Mogadishu once used for executions by a terrorist group, and runs on a gravel track where faint white lines are barely visible as lanes. In contrast, many American track and field athletes practice on synthetic track surfaces from their peewee AAU days.
Instead, she came of age during the height of the al-Shabaab, an extremist group linked with al-Qaeda.
“Of the era of al-Shabaab, it was the worst,” Somali handball player Leila Samo told “A girl could not run, could not even walk without wearing heavy robes.”