Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Media coverage: Community Newswire Oct 16, 2009

By Paul Collins, Community Newswire

SPORT Olympics, 16 Oct 2009 - 10:46

An African athlete who trains with British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe has arrived in the UK to highlight the plight of his country and plea with the International Olympic Committee to let him compete in London 2012.

Salah Amaidane from Western Sahara has never been able to compete in the Olympics because his country is not recognised by the IOC.

Western Sahara has been unlawfully ruled by Morocco since it was annexed by force in 1975. Despite an International Court of Justice ruling, and more than 100 UN resolutions, Morocco has continued to block the right to self-determination.

Amaidane said: "I have two dreams. The first is to compete in the Olympic Games. If not in London then in Rio in 2016. But an even greater dream than winning an Olympic Gold medal is to see my country of Western Sahara free."

Amaidane, 26, lives in France and regularly trains in the Pyrenees with Radcliffe. He has been living in exile since 2003 when he unfurled a Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic flag, the symbol of Saharawi defiance, while competing for Morocco at an event in France.

The athlete, in the UK as a guest of human rights group and arts charity Sandblast, will take part in the Wimbledon Audi 10k run, in South London, on October 18.

He will also urge an all party parliamentary group in Westminster to increase political pressure on Morocco to abide by international law, and hopes to meet Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 organising committee.

Amaidane said: "When I was 10 years old I used to sneak up behind Moroccan policemen and snatch their caps off their heads. They would chase me but I was always too fast for them. I guess I was lucky that they never drew their pistols. People said I was faster than a bullet but fortunately it was never put to the test."

Sandblast aims to raise awareness of the situation in Western Sahara by encouraging Saharawis to tell their own story through educational events and the arts. The charity finances cultural and artistic projects in refugee camps, and promotes collaboration with artists worldwide.

It is currently looking for participants from the UK to take part in the Running the Sahara 2010 event to help raise £50,000 to fund its work with the people in Western Sahara. Entrants can choose to run 5k, 10k, a half marathon, or full marathon course around refugee camps in February.

For more information visit www.sandblast-arts.org.

Source: Community Newswire

No comments:

Post a Comment