Sunday, June 5, 2011

Runners launch legal battle in bid to allow asylum seeker to race for Scotland - The Daily Record

AN asylum seeker who was deported despite being tipped as a top Commonwealth Games medal hope could be set for a return to Scotland.

Runner Robel Nagash caught the eye of national team coaches after smashing a 10k course record by more than a minute in his first race last summer in Glasgow.

The 26-year-old fled conscription in Eritrea and trekked for months across the deserts of Sudan and Libya before almost drowning in the Mediterranean during an epic journey to Britain.

Robel wanted to make Scotland his home and run for the country in the Commonwealth Games in 2014, but immigration officials deported him last July.

Now club mates at Bellahouston Harriers have launched a legal battle in a bid to get him back.

Team manager Iain Burke said: "We hope to hear in the next few days if it's been successful.

"We have had to fundraise to pay lawyer fees but we've put everything in place to give Robel the best chance "He has the potential to be a world class runner and his training times are getting better.

"Our hope is to get him back on a six-month visitor's visa initially to run in the Men's Health 10k in Bellahouston Park in a couple of weeks. Our lawyer reckons the chances are 50/50. The hope is that Robel would be given permission to stay here permanently."

After fleeing Eritrea, Robel was spotted jogging through the rain in Glasgow and he was invited along to Bellahouston Harriers.

In June 2010, he was first to cross the line in the Glasgow Men's Health 10k run with a time of 30 minutes 47 seconds - shaving one minute and three seconds off the record.

At the finish, he said: "It is my dream to represent Scotland."

If he was given asylum in Scotland, Robel could be eligible to run for the nation in three years.

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