The fifth time, however, will have a different weight for her. Through it, the proud Lebanese athlete wishes to tell the world a positive story about Lebanon and her fellow Lebanese, despite the negative events that overshadow them today.
“It’s representing my country and it means a lot to me,” she tells CNN. “With everything that’s happening in Lebanon, it just gives me even more desire to represent Lebanon.”
The next Olympic Games were initially set to take place in Tokyo in 2020. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the sports event was pushed to 2021.
Similarly, most elite marathons have been suspended for this year, leaving Njeim with fewer opportunities to represent her country in a grand event.
Today, she is diligently working to qualify for the 2021 Olympics.
As she notes, the recent explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital hit Njeim differently than all the wars and destruction that Lebanon has been through.
“We’ve been through civil war, we’ve been through bombing, we’ve been in with war with Israel, terrorism, but this one was just completely different.”
“This one really hit a lot of Lebanese, abroad and in Lebanon.”
Although she points out that the significant death and damage caused by the disastrous blast will never truly heal, Njeim does not doubt that the Lebanese will rebuild their country and rise to the challenge.
On her part, she hopes to represent her devastated country for a fifth time in the Olympics.
“I really think this one will be a special one just because it will be my fifth one,” the runner says.
I will not be winning the marathon, but I will be there representing Lebanon and, to me, that is winning.
“And with everything happening, I have this burn to be there. To me, it’s not about being at an Olympics, it’s about representing Lebanon and telling people about this beautiful country.”