Date: Saturday, 11 March 2017
FOR Queen’s Baton Relay nominee and Eritrean refugee Wisam Omer it’s another step towards feeling like he belongs on the Gold Coast and in Australia.
The 16-year-old Keebra Park State High student was the first person nominated yesterday to be a runner in the Queen’s Baton Relay, leading up to the Commonwealth Games in April, next year.
Gold Coast multicultural community development officer Kevin Dando put Omer’s name forward, saying he met a lot of people facing challenges in his role but Omer stood out as a leader.
Wisam was captain of a local soccer team with players of many different nationalities and was also recently awarded an Australian Business Community Network scholarship.
“He’s proud to be a Gold Coaster, proud to be a Queenslander, he’s proud to be an Australian,” Mr Dando said of Wisam who settled on the Gold Coast three years ago.
Wisam, with his parents and three siblings, said he was forced to leave Eritrea due to political instability when aged seven and lived in Egypt for several years before moving to Australia.
“At first it was very challenging but thanks to Keebra Park State High and people like Kevin and other everyday people you meet it got much easier and I’m very excited to be here.
“It’s a great honour to be nominated. It’s almost unbelievable. I never expected that I would be — it will be such a good experience,” he said.
Keebra Park State High Intensive English Language centre teacher Christina Murray, who has taught Wisam said he was “extremely chuffed and humbled” to be considered.
“It will make him feel like he’s part of the community, the Games and Australia,” she said.
Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Brooke Hanson, who carried the 1994 Commonwealth Games baton aged just 16, said Wisam would have memories for life.
“Being a baton bearer is exciting, it’s fun, it’s unique and above all it’s a huge honour,” she said.
“It’s a moment I will never forget and wonderful to know where are going to be nominating everyday heroes.”
Originally published as Refugee first Baton relay nominee