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Loroupe named 2016 United Nations Person of the Year

Athletics legend Tegla Chepkite Loroupe has been named the 2016 United Nations Person of the Year.

The long-distance track and road runner was recognised for her efforts in getting refugees to participate in the Olympic Games.

In June, 2014, Ms Loroupe, a global spokeswoman for peace, women’s rights and education, organised the first peace race in Kakuma Refugee Camp to commemorate World Refugee Day and promote peace in the region.

A statement from the UN Information Centre, Nairobi, making the announcement on Tuesday, said Ms Loroupe won the award for her efforts and her leadership in taking peace to conflict zones in Africa.

The world record holder over multiple road race distances and formerly in the marathon, whom then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan named a UN Ambassador of Sports in 2006, is an international sports ambassador for the world athletics governing body IAAF and UN children’s agency Unicef.

The UN said: “Loroupe, with her consistent advocacy in 2015, had succeeded in lobbying the International Olympic Committee to give a chance to refugees with athletics talent to participate in the Olympics. As a result, 10 refugees (five from Kakuma) were selected for Rio Olympics”.

UNHCR representative Raouf Mazou said: “I don’t think anybody knows how the world felt when they saw a refugee Olympic team entering the stadium in Rio. They received a lot of applause from the world and it shows that people who go through a lot can reach the top of anything, sports in this case”.


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