Libyan athletes gear up for London Olympics

Libyan athletes vying to participate in this year’s Olympic Games in London, have been putting a lot of effort into training despite the lack of enough facilities, in light of the country’s conditions since last year’s revolution.

Taekwondo competitor Mohammed Belgasem Tishli has been playing for 20 years. His brother Ezz Eddin, who was killed in August last year in the capital Tripoli during the uprising , participated in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and 2008 in Beijing.

“My participation in the upcoming Olympics is very significant, because it will be the first Olympic Games we participate in with the new independence flag and a new national anthem. This is very important. Our happiness (in the new Libya) will be complete during the Olympics,” he said.

Ali Mabrouk al-Zaidi ran in every distance from 1,500 meters up, and participated in the Olympic games three times already: Atlanta in 1996, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008.

“I qualified for the Olympic Games in London and this is my fourth time at the Olympic games. I was the first Libyan athlete to raise the independence flag which was at the World Athletics Championship in 2011 in Daegu (Korea). I was nominated in 2011 at the Marrakesh marathon,” he said.

Zaidi trains with Mohammed Khouaja, who specializes in 200m and 400m. He said Libya’s participation in London is dedicated to all who died during the violence of the revolution, which marked the ouster and then death of Muammar Qaddafi, putting an end to the four decade regime.

“This is the dream of all athletes, to take part in the Olympics. God willing, we will do our best for Libya, just as the martyrs did and sacrificed their lives for Libya and this blessed revolution, so we also hope to offer something to them and to our people," he said.

Libya has yet to win an Olympic medal, but athletes are hopeful of their chances in London, otherwise they can look forward to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

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