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(Yonhap News Agency) Eritrean wants to start swimming culture in war-torn homeland

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Saturday, 27 July 2019

(Gwangju Swimming) Eritrean wants to start swimming culture in war-torn homeland

All Headlines 13:21 July 27, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

GWANGJU, July 27 (Yonhap) -- He was born in Eritrea, spent his early years in Gambia, learned how to swim in Kenya and started excelling in the sport in Denmark.

Swimmer Daniel Christian has literally come a long way to compete at his first world championships in South Korea, and he's been trying to savor every moment.

Eritrean swimmer Daniel Christian poses for photos after competing in the men's 100m butterfly preliminary at the FINA World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 26, 2019. (Yonhap)

Eritrean swimmer Daniel Christian poses for photos after competing in the men's 100m butterfly preliminary at the FINA World Championships at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on July 26, 2019. (Yonhap)

"I've been trying to get to this place my whole life," he said after competing in the men's 100m butterfly preliminary Friday at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju. "Finally getting here is kind of surreal."

Christian finished 71st out of 77 in 1:00.77, but in his words, "Results aren't a top priority."

The 21-year-old has set a bigger goal for himself that stretches beyond the pool -- inspiring new swimmers in his native land.

His family was split up while Eritrea remained at war with Ethiopia. They battled for more than two years starting in May 1998 but didn't agree to peace until July 2018.

Christian said the countries have been fighting for control of the long coastline in Eritrea that stretches for 1,200 kilometers, and it's ripe for swimming.

"I want to start the culture (of swimming) in Eritrea," said Christian, who moved to Denmark at age 10 and said he hasn't seen his family for some 10 years. "We have 1,200 km of coast. Why not use our open water for swimming along the coast? Once we start swimming, it's going to take off from there."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

 Eritrean wants to start swimming culture in war ...


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