SIM­PLY­HEALTH GREAT BIRM­ING­HAM RUN

KADAR AB­DUL­LAHI STRIDES TO A SOGGY VIC­TORY IN BIRM­ING­HAM AS NI­COLA SYKES EN­JOYS SOME HOME COM­FORTS

Athletics Weekly - - News - RE­PORT: EUAN CRUMLEY PIC­TURES: THE GREAT RUN COM­PANY

Kadar Ab­dul­lahi and Ni­cola Sykes win over 13.1 miles on a wet day in the Midlands

KADAR AB­DUL­LAHI is hop­ing athletics can help point to­ward a bright fu­ture and take him away from the trou­bles of his past. In Birm­ing­ham, the 22-year-old cer­tainly took another size­able step on what has been a re­mark­able jour­ney.

The man who is cur­rently com­pet­ing for Birch­field Har­ri­ers fled his na­tive Ethiopia for Kenya with his un­cle and brother at the age of 13.

He was in a refugee camp un­til his athletics tal­ent was recog­nised and he found him­self fea­tur­ing in the 5000m heats and ran along­side Mo Farah at last year’s IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don as part of the refugee team which was given an op­por­tu­nity to com­pete at the high­est level.

Ab­dul­lahi has since made run­ning his life and is now hope­ful of be­ing granted asy­lum in the UK.

He cer­tainly looked very

much at home in the West Midlands.

In the ab­sence of pre-race favourite Tsegai Tewelde – who was un­able to make the start line due to travel prob­lems brought on by Storm Callum – Ab­dul­lahi won in 66:06 at his first at­tempt over the 13.1-mile dis­tance in cold and ex­tremely wet con­di­tions.

His friend and club-mate Omar Ahmed fol­lowed eight sec­onds be­hind, with Tip­ton Har­rier Ian Wil­liams third in 69:40.

“I was a refugee in Kenya,” says Ab­dul­lahi, who clocked 14:18.20 for 5000m on the track ear­lier this year.

“I fled due to the per­se­cu­tion and vi­o­lence that was go­ing on. I lived in a refugee camp be­fore I was iden­ti­fied as one of the tal­ented prospects by the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) and sup­ported by the IAAF and IOC.

“We were given an op­por­tu­nity to run for the refugees and we were re­ally grate­ful for it, to be part of a com­pe­ti­tion like the World Cham­pi­onships. It was a dream come true to come to Lon­don and com­pete.”

He con­tin­ues: “I did great, run­ning with an Olympic cham­pion like Mo Farah. Just run­ning with him, it was such a good ex­pe­ri­ence, and since then I have made run­ning my life. It has given me hope.”

He adds: “I am still an asy­lum seeker after I re­ceived threats after com­pet­ing at the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don. I’m still wait­ing for my case to be sorted out but I’m hope­ful that will hap­pen.

“Ev­ery­one de­serves to live peace­fully. As a refugee you feel a lot of threats and you feel fear but run­ning gives me hope and it’s my iden­tity. I am able to com­mu­ni­cate with the world when I am able to go and run. I love run­ning.

“I don’t want to live some­where where I don’t feel safe or I’m per­se­cuted.”

He ex­plains: “That’s why I came to the UK and I pray that every­thing will be sorted out.”

Some­one with con­sid­er­ably more knowl­edge of run­ning on the streets of Birm­ing­ham is Ni­cola Sykes, the Bournville Har­rier who took the women’s ti­tle in a time of 79:57. Sykes was fol­lowed home by de­fend­ing cham­pion Chloe Richard­son of Birch­field in

81:58 while third place went to Nuneaton’s Ali­son Tay­lor (82:57).

Sykes is a PE teacher as well as a club coach at Bournville and she said after her vic­tory: “This is like my home run and there was great sup­port all over the course. I knew that if I ran well I could win so I was re­ally pleased.”

Kadar Ab­dul­lahi: Ethiopianrefugee han­dled the wet con­di­tions to win in 66:06

One-two-three (left to right): Kadar Ab­dul­lahi, Omar Ahmed and Ian Wil­liams

Ni­cola Sykes: women’s win­ner

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