In his first race on the International circuit, Dominic Lobalu, a refugee from South Sudan now living in Switzerland finished strongly to post a world lead of 7:29.48 ahead of Uganda’s Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Jacob Kiplimo, the runner-up in 7:29.55 in the men’s 3000m.
The 23-year-old runner from Switzerland, who previously represented the Athlete Refugee Team (ART) at events like the 2017 World Relays and the 2017 London World Championships before returning to his native South Sudan in 2019, won the men’s 3,000-meter race in the quickest time ever set this year, clocking 7 minutes, 29.48 seconds.
In a race where Jacob Kiplimo, a 21-year-old from Uganda who recently ran a 1500-meter personal best of 3 minutes, 39 seconds in Berne, took the lead from Australia’s Stewart McSweyn at the bell and accelerated towards what appeared to be a perfectly calculated victory, Lobalu was not considered to be a serious challenger.
But Lobalu moved from fourth to first over the final 150 metres, edging past the staggering – and staggered – Ugandan, second in 7:29.55, a few metres from the line.
The 23-year-old Swiss-based runner, who competed for the ART at competitions including the London 2017 World Championships and 2017 World Relays before reverting to his country of origin, South Sudan, in 2019, knocked 20 seconds off his best in clocking 7min 29.48sec in a race in which he was not considered a serious challenger. But Lobalu moved from fourth to first over the final 150 metres, edging past the staggering – and staggered – Ugandan.
“At the start I was a little scared,” said Lobalu, “but towards at the end I started to pick up the athletes and in the last 100m I thought I could win. I am very happy with the victory.
“I want to motivate other refugees too because I had to fight to be here. I landed in Geneva, where I met my coach. I am grateful that I can work with him.”
“It was the first time ever that I competed,” Lobalu said.
“At the end I started to pick up the athletes and the last 100m I thought that I could win.
“I believed in it all the time – never give up.
“I really wanted to be the first refugee to win.”