Gai Nyang Tap, is a 25-year-old, 800 meters athlete, who is competing at the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, as a Refugee Athlete.
Nyang Tap, is competing under the banner of United Nations Human Commission for Refugee (UNHR), a special programme, designed by the international body to give refugees the opportunities to compete at international games and to use sports as a platform to preach peace to the world.
The story of Nynang Tap, goes beyond his participation in the competition, but one of sorrowful memories, as he has to witness and endure the scourges of war and struggle for survival from his days as a toddler, adolescent and an adult life before becoming an athlete – courtesy veteran Kenyan Olympian, who doubles as the United Nations Ambassador for Sport and Peace, Tegla Loroupe.
“We didn’t choose to have this status as refugees, but by our experiences. Life left us with no option but to be refugees. Our life stories are hard to tell and sad to know that the war memories are all we remember about our countries of origin. But thanks to this team, we now have a sense of belonging,” Nyang Tap narrated.
Nyang Tap, has been a living witness of the battle for independence by South Sudan, as he was six month old in the womb, when his mother ran for survival during the war, after the death of his father.
“During the war for independence, every man was drafted into the army with or without your desire. My father was automatically drafted into the army to fight for independence and lost his life in the process.
“My mother who was then carrying me in her womb, ran into Ethiopia and three months later gave birth to me in 1992 in a refugee camp called Itang in Ethiopia ”. Nyang Tap narrated to the GNA Sports.
His mother decided to go back to Sudan few months after his birth, but their village in Sudan, was again destroyed as a result of the war, so they had to seek refuge in Ethiopia again, this time to a different camp called Punyodo, as the first camp had collapsed due to political misunderstanding between Ethiopia and Sudan.
Nyang Tap, who had two brothers and two sisters after his mother married another Sudanese, in the Ethiopian camp, said he lost his mother in 2004, but they were fortunate to have their grandmother joining them in the refugee camp, who also ran away from the war for survival.
Having completed senior high school in 2012 in the Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, Nyang Tap, returned to South Sudan in a bid to start life all over with the hope of looking for job. By divine intervention, he met his uncle who had also lost his wife and children through the war.
However, his attempt to start a life in his native South Sudan was not successful, as he had to move back to the camp, in Ethiopia, because the war was still not over even after independence in 2011.
Nyang Tap, moved back Ethiopia and subsequently to Kenyan, where he joined a group of other refugees, who are under the care and leadership of veteran Kenyan Olympian, who doubles as the United Nations Ambassador for Sport and Peace, Tegla Loroupe.
Nyang Tap, has competed in two international competitions, with the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games as his third.
He is aiming at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan, but after sports, Nyang Tap wants to make life more meaningful and hopes to go back to his home, South Sudan, to help in the reconstruction of the country.