Medal’ll Heal Tlish’s Pains


Those gestures of daffy jubilation in sports are well known.

Some athletes rock and weigh their arms for their pregnant wife, while others praise God or Jesus with a profound t-shirt. Some inventive athletes even develop a unique choreography which becomes something of a trademark for them.

Mohamed Farg Salem Tlish will cheer in another way, if he is successful in winning a medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Surely, only a few, maybe no other athletes have experienced what the young Libyan has suffered in his life.

As a child of last year’s Arab Spring, the Taekwondoka was forced to witness the terrible atrocities that happened in his country – first hand. He lost his beloved brother during the war. “My brother served for this country as an Olympian in 2004 and 2008,” Tlish said. It is hard for the shy young man to speak about this fate. It is only when he tells of his future dreams, his eyes illuminate: “I’m going to continue this family tradition and make my brother happy in his resting place,” the 26-year-old said.

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When AIPS President Gianni Merlo and a team of journalists met Tlish for an interview in front of the ancient Roman ruins in Sabratha, on the Mediterranean coast west of Tripoli, the Libyan was so excited and grateful. He had endured a long, strenuous trip from Benghazi to Tripoli and waited there patiently for hours in order to meet the foreign journalists. It is hardly imaginable that a European Olympian would act in this absolutely honorable way…

“I feel great to participate in the Olympics,” Tlish said, after he made some traditional steps and fighting moves on the stage of the ancient theater. “It is a dream for all sportspeople. And being one of the athletes who are going into service for the new Libya is a great feeling,” he told us.

Taekwondo, is with Judo, one of the mainstays of the Libyan Olympic Committee. Even if for most Libyans – like in just about every other country in the world – football is the measure of all things. The martial arts athletes are reaping the biggest successes. No wonder, that NOC President, Nabil Elalem is merited Judoka.

For Tlish and the Olympic team of the desert state, the participation in London after this year of devastation and finally liberation equals a miracle. No one has forgotten the brutal pictures of the civil war which ended with the death of the brutal dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi on October 20. Now the Olympic ideals and the athletes play an important role in the rebuilding process of the war-torn country.

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