Somalia has sent two athletes to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, including the country’s first non-runner – female boxer Ramla Ali.
The team departed for Tokyo, Japan, last week with one goal in mind – to fly the Somali flag up high.
Ali is joined by Middle-distance runner Ali Idow will compete in the 800-meter race.
While bidding the team farewell ahead of the Games that begin later this week, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo wished them well and assured them of the country’s support.
“Whatever results you come up with, you deserve praise and encouragement,” said Farmaajo.
Ali will not only become the first female boxer from Somalia to compete at the Olympics, but also only the sixth female athlete from her country to compete in the Olympic Games.
As a child, Ali and her family fled war-torn Somalia as refugees following the killing of her brother.
Her family settled in London, where she got into boxing secretly for fear her family would disapprove of the sport for a Muslim girl.
Over the years, she rose from the secret trainings to become a professional boxer. Her progress has been rapid; she’s signed to Anthony Joshua’s 258 Management label, and is trained by husband Richard Moore and Clayton at the BoxClever Gym in Ladbroke Grove, London.
While announcing her selection to represent Somalia in Tokyo, she said it was the result of a decade-long preparation and that she would “put my professional boxing career on hold whilst concluding the final part of this story and represent my country at the games.”
Somalia has never won an Olympic medal but the country’s citizens hope this will change when Ali and Idow take to the stage later this month.
The of the Somali Olympics committee, Mohamed Abdow Hajji, hopes the participation of Ali in the Tokyo Games will open up prospects for other athletes outside the track events to showcase Somalia’s talents in future Games.