These athletes are still training in their stadium after it was hit by airstrikes.
“As you can see, the stadium is damaged and this affects us badly,” Yemeni athlete Laila Al-Ashmouri stated. “If it was fixed, at least this would encourage us, but when we enter and see it damaged, it’s not encouraging, but what can we do?”
The training facility is one of Yemen’s largest. It has been targeted several times by airstrikes reportedly launched by the Saudi-led coalition as part of a civil war that has devastated the country since 2014.
“As you see, the stadium was hit from four directions and hit again at the main entrances,” facility director Khalid Al-Moktairy said. “But they are aiming at the youth, aiming at the capabilities of the youth, when you target a stadium that was used by a large proportion of youths for either football players or athletes.”
Despite the stadium’s crumbling walls, the women athletes are staying positive.
“We are training here to be ready for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020,” Al-Ashmouri said. “We have here an internal training camp, and in six or seven months, we will be in training camp abroad in Russia.”
Yemen has yet to take home any Olympic medals but has sent athletes to the summer games since 1984.