June 15, 2023

Dominic Lobalu left his home in South Sudan at just nine years old after his parents died, travelling to Kenya, to find a new life for himself as a refugee. At just 15, he realised that his best opportunity to improve his life was to start athletic running – and he did just that. His running eventually took him to Switzerland where he was granted asylum, and he chose to settle in the country.

On 20 June, a short documentary film titled “The Right to Race” will make its debut and it features Lobalu. It tells the story of his amazing journey from South Sudan to the world stage of athletics.

Lobalu’s journey to Switzerland started when he qualified for the Athlete Refugee Team while in Kenya. (The Athlete Refugee Team was formed to allow refugee athletes to compete in competitions and tournaments globally without being affiliated with a specific country.) It was in Switzerland where he met his current coach, Markus Hagmann.

“I can still see that image in my head,” says Hagmann, recalling their first meeting, “He was standing there, wearing his On tracksuit that he got from the Athlete Refugee Team. That was the only outfit he had.”

Although the pair did not speak the same language to begin with, they managed to form a powerful bond over time. It took Lobalu a while to relax into their friendship and learn to trust his coach who later became his friend.

Lobalu had nothing to lose and worked tirelessly with Hagmann to get his technique right, improve his nutrition and take care of his overall general health.

Lobalu hopes that the film will inspire others ad believes that our destiny is in our own hands. “Nobody will come and help you if you don’t look for help. Nobody will change your life for you if you’re not ready to make a change yourself,” Lobalu says, “Keep holding onto your dreams. Keep fighting to achieve your goals. That is what I want the world to know.”

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