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Timas Harik - an unlikely champion

Timas is an unlikely champion. He is a refugee from Sudan who was separated from his family for a year and spent time in a refugee camp in Egypt before being reunited with them in Australia.

 His age was appropriated, because his birth certificate was washed away in a flood. He turned 16 on January 1, 2010. This is his story.

Ask anyone who comes across Timas Harik on a running track and they will tell you that something special usually happens. For 16-year-old Timas, the future is bright.

 Timas began running at the age of 11, only shortly after he and his family had arrived in Australia from Sudan. He immediately displayed good form, winning an inter-school competition.

 This is where he came to notice of St Kevin’s Amateur Athletic Club head coach Peter Kehoe, who read an article on Timas' success in the local newspaper.

 “I read that he had done well in an inter-school cross-country competition. He hadn’t done any training or didn’t have a coach, and it was suggested he get a coach”, Kehoe said.

 “So about a week later I rang up the headmaster at the school, and she kindly let me come along and meet Timas, and we had a bit of a chat.”

 He began working with Timas, teaching him about basic technique, and knew that with the right attitude and training, this raw talent was a potential star in the making.

 “We started meeting up twice a week at the local footy oval to work on some technique issues – as most young boys don’t really know how to run perfectly – and at that stage it was a matter of getting him involved (in running). So I signed him up to my athletics club and he started competing over the summer and really enjoyed it.”

 Even though he had gained a bursary to St.Kevins his family as not able to afford athletic gear. Sports Without Borders gave him an initial grant of $800, 2 years ago and supplied him with the gear he needed to succeed.

 His win two years ago in the Under 14/15 Boys 4000m Australian Cross Country Championship in Geelong – where he competed against boys a year older than him – showed there was much to look forward to for Timas, and indeed, Australia’s future running stocks.

 Timas showed excellent form in 2007 and 2008, where his gold medal-double in the 800m and 1500m in the 2007 Australian Youth Championships in Sydney and his win in the Australian Cross Country Championships in 2008 demonstrated his racing class.

 Recently he won both the 800m and 1500m 2010 U/17 Australian National Championhsips in Sydney to make him hot Olympic property.

 Timas is now starting to deal with his recent media attention. “It’s a new experience, I’ve never had people interview me, but it’s alright, its good,” he says modestly.

 He puts his success down to hard work on the training track and a quiet self-confidence that he believes comes from his family’s Christian faith. And of course, eating plenty of vegetables and keeping his fluid levels up.

 Despite his shyness, when it comes to running, Timas displays a maturity and coolness beyond his years, where his true endeavour shows in competition. And he sure knows how to celebrate a win.

 He dominated His recent win in the 1500m was stylish: shaving 4 seconds off his personal best against a class field.

He hopes to inspire other young people from migrant backgrounds to get involved in sport. “(They will think), ‘if he can do it, I can do it as well’. I hope I can help other people to get to what they want to do.”

The sky is the limit for Timas, but he is not getting too ahead of himself. Currently, Timas is keeping his goals simple, focusing “one step at a time” on his running, although he does sometimes dream of making it big.

“Yeah, definitely dream about winning a gold medal at the Olympics, but as I said, just taking it one step at a time.”