Samia Yusuf Omar competed for her country, Somalia, in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. On August 20 it was reported she was amongst a group of immigrants who drowned whilst trying to reach Italy in a rickety boat.
According to the BBC, the runner, who came last in the 200 metres event in Beijing, had to train in almost impossible conditions in Mogadishu, with war, poverty and prejudice all against her. The Somali Olympic Committee refused to help her or encourage her. She ran the race in Beijing wearing a baggy t-shirt and shorts, nothing like the slick outfits of the athletes around her, yet her fierce determination touched the hearts of the spectators and she got a huge cheer when she crossed the finish line some distance behind the others.
Al Jazeera reports that in 2010, the young athlete moved to Ethiopia in the hopes of being able to qualify for London 2012, however she found it very difficult to find a coach willing to train her. She was determined, however, to make her dream of competing in London come true.
eitb.com says that reports in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera say the athlete was on a boat filled with immigrants from war torn North Africa struggling to reach Italy. The boat is believed to have been overcrowded and sank killing all on board.It is believed that she was trying to get to London in time for the Olympics.
The head of the Somalian National Olympic Committee has confirmed to the media that the young athlete is dead but has refused to say how she died, nor is it known exactly when the incident occurred, although one Italian source claims that it happened in April.