Hassan, the Local Olympian, Speaks Out

Aug 20, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Hassan Mead (USA) and Bernard Lagat (USA) in the men's 5000m final during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games at Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange. Mandatory Credit: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Hassan, a Somali American Olympian from Minnesota, recently made news after commenting on president Trump’s immigration ban. The executive order banned entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries that includes Somalia, for 90 days and suspended the U.S. Refugee Program for 120 days. It also indefinitely suspended refugee intake from Syria. The Trump Administration has said the restrictions are a necessary measure to keep America safe.

In a recent interview with Sport Illustrated, Mead said, “Even if I may not be denied right now, it starts to stress you out,” Mead says. “Airports are already a tension-filled environment with random selection because of your demographic and beliefs. Now there’s this order from someone with a lot of power, and I’m still trying to take it in as its happening.”

Hassan Mead, 26, is a South Minneapolis high graduate, a gopher and a 2016 Olympian. Even though he is not a household name in Minnesota, he should definitely be more celebrated among the Somali American community in Minnesota. Hassan is a long distance runner that went to University of Minnesota and ran for team USA in the Rio Olympics 2016 after failing to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. He is a nine-time Big Ten Conference Champion winning two in cross country, (2008, 2009) and seven in track, sweeping all distance events in the 2009 indoor and outdoor seasons. Mead is currently running with the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, Oregon. Hassan graduated from South Minneapolis high school in 2007.

Hassan was born in Boromo, Somalia June 28, 1989. He moved to America with his family in the year 2000 landing in California then relocating to Virignia and eventually to Minnesota. He competed at the high school level for South Minneapolis high’s track team where he set records and had a very fine career. Hassan ended up going to University of Minnesota and was selected to the all freshmen team his first year.

From 2008 through ’12 he attended the University of Minnesota, where he suffered a collapsed lung in 2010 that kept him from qualifying for the 2010 Olympics. Hassan still graduated as an eight-time All-America and nine-time Big Ten champion.

Mead became a professional runner by qualifying for the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, and he topped that up by taking second place to Bernard Lagat, a Kenyan-born U.S. Olympian, in the 5,000 meters at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and made his first Olympic team. In Rio, Mead marched in the Opening Ceremony with the rest of the US Olympic team. A week later, he stumbled and fell in the semifinal before being reinstated for the final, where he finished 11th.

Mead, who is a dual citizen of the United State as well as Somalia has experienced airport harassment first hand while travelling to Australia with his coaches for a track meet. Hassan was pulled out of the security line and questioned by immigration officials for over 2 hours before finally boarding his flight.

“The world is a different place now,” Mead says. “You’re seeing a lot of people out there protesting regardless of their beliefs. We’re in the 21st century and we can clearly see what’s morally wrong. People are out there calling it out and saying, this is wrong in so many ways. That’s why I’m not worried. The people will fight it. People from many different backgrounds and beliefs will now come together and stand up for what’s right and let the American spirit stand up.”


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