BOL HONOURED WITH 2022 PETER NORMAN HUMANITARIAN AWARD

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Tokyo Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Nagmeldin Peter Bol has today received another accolade, this time for his philanthropic efforts when named as the recipient of the 2022 Peter Norman Humanitarian Award.

Presented each year by Athletics Australia on Peter Norman Day (October 9), the Peter Norman Humanitarian Award honours the legacy of the famed Australian sprinter and is given to a member of the Australian athletics community who exemplifies the spirit of Norman through their work in human rights, equality or humanitarian causes. More information about Peter Norman and the Peter Norman Award can be found here.

Bol, who captured the hearts of the Australian public in Tokyo, Oregon and again in Birmingham this year has been a role model to many for his gallant efforts on the track, but it is his work helping underprivileged youth that has gained him this benevolent recognition.

Over the past 18 months, Bol has worked with a number of charities including Youth Activating Youth, Pushing Barriers, as well as the Sudanese Saturday School in Melbourne, helping kids who don’t speak English at home with their schoolwork on the weekends. His work at Youth Activating Youth and Pushing Barriers sees him spend time and mentoring youth people through sport.

In addition to this, he runs workshops at the Bachar Houli Academy and has travelled to communities in Leonora and Geraldton, WA to introduce school students to athletics.

Bol’s passion for youth work stems from his own lived experience as a teenager following his family’s migration to Australia from Sudan via Egypt.  Born in Khartoum, Sudan, Bol and his family left their home in at a time of turmoil in 2000, seeking to find a better life.

While there is much misinformation circulating around his story, his family emigrated to Egypt with refugee status and settled there for four years before migrating to Australia at the age of 10. Initially arriving in Toowoomba, his family then moved to Perth. 

Finding a love of sport at a young age, it was only when in Year 9 that a teacher promised to help him find a coach, a club and a mentor if he gave track and field a chance. Thinking this would only help him with his fitness in for basketball, the Australian champion finally took up the sport in Year 11, and little did he know that he would be representing his adopted homeland just five years later at the Rio Olympics.

For Bol, the opportunity to contribute to the broader society and mentoring disadvantaged youth is his way of giving back for the opportunities that he has been presented with in life.

“My work comes from a combination of my upbringing and my family values, but I got my start in athletics through a lot of help,” Bol said.

“My teacher introduced me to athletics, introduced me to a coach and it took me a long time to get to where I am, but I’m there because of all the help I’ve had. I’ve always wanted to give back and help bring opportunities to more vulnerable people.

“The first time I did this sort of work was right after school when I travelled to Leonora and it’s always been something that’s very rewarding. You get a lot of gratitude from teachers and from the organisations you help, but no one really understands how much purpose it gives me and how it motivates me for the next season.”

Despite his busy schedule with training and travelling both domestically and abroad, Bol said youth work and philanthropy would always be a top priority.

“The kids see me or other athletes on TV or they see us doing amazing things and they think it’s impossible, but when they see me in person and speak to me, especially school students who are 17 or in Year 12, they start to know that anything is possible.  I tell them my story, about where I grew up in Thornlie and show them that they are ahead of me as to where I was at that age and they are encouraged.

“I’ve always wanted to start a Foundation of my own to raise money and help the kids that need it most. I didn’t anticipate how busy I would be after Tokyo, but this is important to me and it’s important to me to continue.”

Chair of Athletics Australia’s Special Awards Committee Jane Flemming said Bol’s ability to inspire through his sporting and humanitarian endeavours made him an obvious choice for this year’s Peter Norman Humanitarian Award.

“Peter lifted the entire nation with his grace at the Tokyo Olympics and became a symbol of what we as a nation can aspire to be. His youth work takes this to another level completely,” Flemming said.

“Peter’s contributions to charities such as Youth Activating Youth and Pushing Barriers, and even leaning on his own lived experience to help Sudanese children, whose parents don’t always speak English, with their homework is truly inspiring.

“We’re incredibly proud to have Peter as part of the Australian athletics community, and we couldn’t think of a better candidate for this year’s award.”

In supporting Bol’s charitable efforts, Athletics Australia will make a donation to his nominated cause; Pushing Barriers, a charity that seeks to empower refugee youth in Brisbane through playing sport. To donate to Pushing Barriers, visit www.pushingbarriers.org

By Sascha Ryner, Athletics Australia

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