Nader al-Masri stretches next to his daughter on a street in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
Contributed by Lucia in Spain
By Ramzy Baroud
"....Human nature is strange. Our weaknesses can sometimes turn into a launch pad for our most triumphant moments. My running "career", however, started in the Gaza Strip. As early as my elementary years in the Nuseirat refugee camp I was habitually chased, along with many school children, by Israeli troops. Running the distance meant dodging a bullet and reaching home alive. My greatest running moment was in high school, though, when I outran a military jeep. Along with my younger brother and a cousin, our goal was to reach a citrus orchard by the Gaza Valley before being run over. As bullets whizzed all around we made our final leap into a thicket. Bleeding from my face and arm after colliding with thorns and branches I looked triumphantly at the rest but said nothing. That day we won more than gold. We won life.
When four Palestinian athletes marched with the Palestinian flag into the Olympic Games in Beijing it was a statement, a declaration of sorts, that Palestinians insist on their right to exist on equal footing with the rest of the world, to raise their flag without fear and wear their country's name spelled out the way it should be, not as a Palestinian Authority but as Palestine. The 1.5 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza must have savoured that moment more than anyone else. One from amongst them, Nader Al-Masri, had a big smile on his face as he marched, nervously but proudly. Gaza lived a moment of freedom that day, one that even Israel couldn't take away......"
Photo courtesy of The Peoples Voice