Olympic refugee Kinde a promising rookie

Olympic refugee Kinde a promising rookie, aged 36

Rio de Janeiro, June 11 (IANS) If he were any other athlete, Yonas Kinde would almost certainly be in the twilight of his professional career. But Kinde is not just any athlete.

Just three years after seeking asylum from his crisis-torn Ethiopia, Kinde is preparing for his first Olympic Games, aged 36, reports Xinhua.

The Luxembourg resident will represent the Olympic refugee team in the Rio 2016 marathon in August, barely two years into his competitive running career.

“I can’t explain the feeling. It has power, it’s amazing,” Kinde on Saturday said of the impact running has had on his life in comments published by Rio2016.com.

Kinde is one of 10 athletes chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to participate under the Olympic flag in Rio, with financial and technical support from the IOC’s solidarity fund.

Kinde began running 10,000 metres and half marathons before progressing to the marathon. Such has been his progress that his best marathon time of two and hours and 17 minutes would be enough to earn him a berth in Luxembourg’s Olympic team.

Understandably, Kinde finds it difficult to talk about the ordeal of leaving Ethiopia, which has been ravaged by years of war, famine and economic hardship.

But he says life in his adopted country — where he works as a taxi driver and takes French lessons — is a world away from the daily struggle to survive in his homeland.

“It’s impossible for me to live there … it’s very dangerous for my life,” he said.

Kinde said he is training twice a day to prepare for the Olympic marathon, which will start and finish at the Sambadrome — the iconic home of Rio’s annual Carnival celebrations.

“I left my country because of political problems. There are many difficulties, morally, economically, and it’s very difficult to be an athlete,” he said.

“I will go to participate in the Olympic Games. I will be proud. I will be happy,” he added.

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