An inspirational aspiring young jockey who has been through unimaginable horrors was recognised at the the Mirror’s Pride of Sport awards.
Abdul Kareem Musa Adam was presented with the young achiever accolade at the awards in Grosvenor House, London, yesterday (Wednesday, 7 December). He also received a video message from his favourite jockey, Frankie Dettori.
The teenager, who lost his family and fled across Africa and Europe as a child to reach safety, wants to become a jockey.
Abdul was just seven years old when his parents and sisters were killed.
Born in Darfur, in western Sudan, he had gone to help round-up cattle one afternoon in 2004. While he was away, his village was attacked and his family killed.
He spent two years in a refugee camp in Chad, before being separated from his brother — who he is still hoping to find — and forced to flee to Libya.
Abdul refused to fight as a child soldier in the civil war there and was beaten so badly as a result that he was hospitalised.
At the age of 14, he made the terrifying journey across the Mediterranean to Europe and lived rough in France for about 18 months before stowing away on a Swindon-bound lorry, where he was picked up by police. He was then granted asylum in the UK and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the summer of 2015, he was on the Swindon care leavers’ programme and although he was struggling at college, he indicated a love of horses.
Abdul took a week-long 4Sport course at Greatwood — a charity that uses ex-racehorses to educate disadvantaged children and young adults with special educational needs.
He stayed at the charity for a further year, during which time he completed a further 4Sport qualification and Greatwood helped him secure a placement with Wales-based trainer Nikki Evans.
“[Nikki and her team] were fantastic in supporting him and got him riding,” Sasha Thorbek-Hooper from the charity told H&H.
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By the time he left, he was riding out racehorses, leading up at the races and is now part-way through a 12-week course at the Northern Racing College.
“He is an extraordinary young man,” added Mrs Thorbek-Hooper.
“I remember how smiley and happy he always was when he was here at Greatwood.
“He is always positive and up-beat — he is a very determined young man, but also a very kind one.”