A Palestinian’s Olympic Dream

I’ve always griped about the difficulties of chasing my athletics dream here in the Philippines, about how track athletes face an uphill climb in light of the dearth of athletics infrastructure, government support and total disinterest in the sport.

The fine BBC article on Nader El Masri made me thankful for the relative peace in our archipelago. For Nader, who lives and trains at the strife-torn Gaza Strip, peace is but a far-flung luxury. Nader practically lives next door to hostile Israeli soldiers. Travel to and from Gaza is restricted. With the age old conflict in the Holy Land, the existence of world-class athletics facilities naturally takes a back seat.

Read the BBC’s article on El Masri

Nevertheless, the 30-year old Nader’s best time of 14:24 in the 5,000m run is respectable, considering his woeful circumstances (The Philippine record in the same event is 13:58, set by Eduardo Buenavista).

When I was younger and utterly ignorant of sport, I used to look down upon Olympic last placers. The fact that it takes superhuman effort just to qualify for the quadrennial games eluded my prepubescent self. Nader embodies the Olympic creed espoused by Baron Pierre de Coubertin:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

I wish the best for Nader, for him to endure the hurdles of the next two years.

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