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Kenyan refugee Olympic athlete braves COVID-19

Nairobi, April 8 (IANS) Refugee Olympic team flag bearer Rose Nathike, who competed in 800m race at R Games in 2016, has called on the world never to give up hope and always to look up to a brighter tomorrow.

Nathike, 26, has had to adjust her training and by extension her life to try and keep safe and healthy against the global coronavirus epidemic, even as she prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Games, reports Xinhua news agency.

Nathike, who trains in Iten in Rift Valley and Ngong in Nairobi, has been forced to retrace her steps back to the refugee camp in Kakuma, Northern Kenya after the local authorities enforced a dusk to dawn nationwide curfew to curb the spread of the virus. But even that has not dampened her spirit to succeed in sports.

“As refugees, as athletes, we have to be strong and never lose hope. Even in normal life, you will face some hardships. Some difficult situations in your life can last for years,” Nathike told the Olympic Channel on Wednesday from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

For an athlete who has had a turn in life courtesy of the Olympic solidarity sponsorship, she can look forward to better days, to actualize and live her dream after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on April 1 extended the scholarship and funding of her preparations and that of other 48 Refugee Athletes to 2021.

The grant through the Olympic Solidarity has helped her and other Refugee Athletes train with the aim of qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but also to continue their sporting careers and build towards their future. Now IOC, which pushed back the games to 2021, has added them another year.

Since her international debut at Rio 2016, Nathike has competed at the last two World Championships in London and Doha. Nathike believes that now is the time to run with faith in her heart and dreams in her head.

–IANS

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