Samia Omar

Yesterday we celebrated 18-year-old Syrian Refugee Yusra Mardini’s swimming victory in this year’s Olympics in Rio.

Today I want to celebrate a 21-year-old Olympic runner, Samia Omar, who will not be competing this year, as she died in the Mediterranean Sea.

Samia fled her home town in Somalia after increasing control of a militant Islamic group al-Shebaab meant that any leisure activities such as sports were banned and she was not even able to wear sports clothing. She lived in a refugee camp for a while before fleeing her country all together in the hope of continuing training and pursuing her ambition of competing in the Summer Olympics.

With the dream to find a coach in Europe set firmly in her mind, she paid smugglers and boarded an overcrowded, dangerous boat to cross the sea from Libya to Italy.

The boat soon ran out of petrol and drifted for hours out in the open water, until an Italian rescue ship finally found it.

In desperation and fear, the 70 refugees on board rushed to grab the ropes thrown down to them from the ship. In the chaos, many people, most unable to swim, fell into the water…including Samia.

She treaded water for as long as her slim little body would allow her, before succumbing to the sea, slipping silently below the waves.

She was 21 years old, with so much ahead of her, but she was never seen alive again.

This post is to Samia and her courage, strength, and determination to keep going. Let her be an inspiration to all of us to never give up, to follow your dreams, and to fight for equal opportunity for all. <3

Please share this post and message of solidarity for all those still risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean sea in a desperate bid to find safety.

To donate to our own search and rescue efforts: