LONDON — The roar as he completed the race was deafening. Almost everyone in the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium was on their feet cheering their man home.

These were not cheers for a winner but simply for the act of taking part.

Houssein Omar Hassan, a 35-year-old runner from Djibouti, completed his men’s 1,500m heat in the T46 category in a time of 11min 23.5sec.

The winner of the race was almost seven and a half minutes quicker.

Rather than give up, and having been well and truly lapped, Omar Hassan, his country’s only participant in the Paralympics, was determined to complete the race.

Samir Nouioua, from Algeria, had won in a time of 3min 57.27sec, with another six athletes coming home within 30 seconds. Then there was Omar Hassan.

He could have given up but he did not. He just kept on jogging and as the crowd realised he was going to carry on, they got more and more excited by his efforts. Omar Hassan, who is missing his right arm, continued to saunter and the crowd shouted their approval.

As he passed each section of the stadium at jogging pace, the spectators stood to applaud. At the finish line, the noise was deafening. Not quite on the scale of Mo Farah, but not far off.

Afterwards, Omar Hassan, who does not speak English, was whisked off for medical treatment, pointing to his heel, indicating a problem with his Achilles tendon.

But his contribution in Saturday morning’s athletics should not be underestimated. His will to finish brought a smile to tens of thousands of faces.

Source: The telegraph

September 2, 2012