Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Inspirational Runners - Tahmina Kohistani Edition

This is the third Olympic-related post in my series of Inspirational Runners. Although the 2012 Games have come to a close, Olympic-fever hasn't quite dwindled just yet. An article about Tahmina Kohistani showed up in my facebook feed today and the first thought that came to my mind was, "I need to blog about her."

Kohistani is a 23-year old university student. She finished last in her 100-metre preliminary race heat with a time of 14.42 seconds. She was the slowest in her event. Rather than rise to medal-induced glory, Kohistani joined the hundreds of non-qualifiers who simply got lost in the crowd.

So what's is so special about her and why is she inspiration-worthy?

Kohistani was the only Afghani woman to compete in London and only the fourth woman from Afghanistan to ever compete in an Olympic Games. If you know anything about gender dynamics in Afghanistan, the fact that Kohistani had to train under protection of a body guard should not surprise you. Her presence at the Games in and of itself is, in fact, quite surprising.

Kohistani aspires to be a teacher. It is her goal to one day open a sports academy for young girls in Kabul. She aspires to encourage young Afghani girls to participate in sports despite the intolerance they will undoubtedly face. Over the long term, Kohistani hopes to affect change in her nation and play a part in moving Afghanistan towards a modern, tolerant mentality.

That is why she is a champion. Olympic medals have nothing to do with it!

Like Kohistani, the students sponsored through WUSC's Student Refugee Program beat incredible odds. They flee war-torn countries, live through the destitution that is a refugee camp, and yet still acquire high enough grades in school to qualify for WUSC's sponsorship program. That is why I am raising money for the program; they, too, are my champions!

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