Refugee Dominic Lucinomo Lobalo (23 years old) has been awarded the Diamond League entry for the first time. It ended with a thrilling victory.
With a personal record of 7.49.31, there was no indication that it was Lopalo who would run away with his victory in the 3000m on Thursday in Stockholm. Many runners initially had a personal record of under 7.30, but in the race Lobalo was precisely the strongest.
The 23-year-old fought his way past Jacob Kiplemo – world half-marathon record holder – the last meters and crossed the finish line in a time of 7.29.48 – the best year in the world and his personal improvement record in under 20 seconds.
“I’ve never heard of it,” Norway’s Narvi Gilji Nordas told NRK after the race.
He even finished eighth with a time of 7.44.28. Narve Gilje Nordås, who has Ingbrigtsen changed as coach, unlike Lobalu who qualified for the World Championships in Athletics – in 5000 meters – in Eugene 15. -24. July.
Admittedly, the two have already met before. In the 5,000m race in Lucerne last year, the Norwegian finished fourth (13.16.67), while Lopalo finished ninth (13.34,18).
The fact that the win came in Lobalo’s first Diamond League competition makes the 23-year-old Norwegian, to put it mildly, dumbfounded.
– It shouldn’t work. Gili Nordos says his physiology says it shouldn’t work, but then he managed it anyway.
Lobalu’s story begins in what is today South Sudan, the country from which he fled civil war when he was nine years old. He moved to Kenya, where he began running for the Kenya Refugee Team. Through them, he got to participate in the World Championships in Athletics in 2017 in London, where he was eliminated when he was 18 years old in an attempt at an altitude of 1500 metres.
In an interview with the insurance company, patron Lobalus generalthe 23-year-old talks about growing up and the road to Switzerland – where he’s lived in recent years.
– In May 2019, I participated in the Geneva Harmony Marathon for UNICEF and then stayed there. It was not easy, but I was hosted by different centers for asylum seekers in Vallorbe and Chiasso. I had to show that I want and have the skills to become a professional runner, says Lopalo.
Since then, Lopalo has hardly moved outside of Switzerland. He is counting on getting a visa to be able to race outside of Switzerland, which he took for a half marathon in Berlin earlier this year and now for the Diamond League in Stockholm.
– At first I was a little scared. Towards the end I started catching people, and in the last 100 meters I thought I could win. I believed in him the whole time. I never gave up, so I am very happy with this victory. I really wanted to be the first refugee to win. I would like to motivate other refugees as well, Lopallo tells the organizer.
– The first time I saw the Diamond League, I thought I wanted to be there someday. We started working really hard for it, and now here I am. He tells NRK I am happy with the win.
Lobalu now represents the ‘Refugee Sports Team’ (ART) and can therefore participate in international competitions under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations. He is ineligible for the World Cup in the US later this month, but Lopalo has big goals in his future career.
– What my goal has already been for a few years is to break records. I also want to be the first refugee to win medals in the biggest international competitions, he tells my general.
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