Indonesian athlete couldn’t afford shoes, so he trained barefoot. He just won gold
Lalu Muhammad Zohri wanted to be a runner.
But the 18-year-old, who is the youngest of four siblings, had to face several obstacles.
Born in a village on the Indonesian island of Lombok, Zohri grew up in a house made of wood and bamboo.
Their parents died years ago.
He couldn’t even afford running shoes to wear while training, but that didn’t stop him from doing it barefoot.
“He always used to like running around our village barefoot. He never wore shoes because he didn’t have any,” his sister, Baiq Fazilah, recently told Kompas news agency.
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The athlete worked to eventually save up to buy a pair of shoes, before travelling in 2017 to the country’s capital, Jakarta, for training.
Zohri’s family and friends watched from his village as he made history this month in Finland, becoming the first Indonesian to win a medal at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world under-20 championships.
It was a gold.
Zohri beat out competitors from around the world to win the top spot in the 100-metre race in just 10.18 seconds.
Relatively unknown before the competition, Zohri has become a household name in Indonesia in the past few days.
He even caught the attention of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who hailed his victory as proof of the country’s potential.
And beyond Indonesia, Zohri’s story and his incredible win have gained international attention in media outlets such as BBC News and CNN.
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Meanwhile, the young athlete says he is focused on what’s next.
He is set to compete in the Asian Games hosted by Indonesia next month.
“I didn’t realize the reaction, but this is amazing,” he said after his win, according to the IAAF. “Now, I am crafting history and I’m very proud.”
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