• Four Somali athletes competing for two places
• Training ground was rebel camp until 2011
• Olympic bid run on a shoestring
• Running for pride, not medals
Training in a bullet-riddled stadium where the remains of a rocket propelled grenade lies discarded on the track's edge counts as progress for Somali Olympic hopeful Mohamed Hassan Mohamed.
A year ago, Mogadishu's Konis stadium was a base for Islamist militants and a work out meant at times running through the streets, dodging gun-fire and mortar shells in one of the world's most dangerous cities.
"It's easier for us to train now," said Mohamed.
It is a staggering understatement from the 22-year-old, one of four Somali athletes vying for the two slots guaranteed for Somalia at the London games.
For 20 years the capital's rutted roads were the frontline in running battles between feuding warlords and later Islamist insurgents fighting to overthrow a government propped up by foreign forces and cash.
The Konis stadium served as an al Shabaab rebel training camp until the al Qaeda-linked combatants fled the capital in August last year. Bullet holes pepper the stadium's concrete stands, which lie in mounds of rubble in places.
Progress, however, is relative. Somalia's Olympic bid is run on a shoestring. There are no dedicated personal trainers, physiotherapists or nutritionists.
"Our facilities are poor. We don't have a modern training camp or a modern gym. We should replace our running shoes frequently. Instead, we wash them," said Mohamed.
Olympic Chief Killed
For now, the 1,500 metre specialist trains in relative safety, unless the security forces block off the surrounding area in advance of a government delegation on the move, forcing the athletes back onto the streets.
That means competing for space with patrolling armoured troop carriers, donkey carts and mountainous piles of garbage. Roadside bombs have become a growing danger.
In April, a suicide bomber blew herself up at a ceremony in the city's national theatre, killing the popular head of Somalia's Olympic committee and at least five others.
"The theatre blast was a painful incident. It was a shocking day," Mohamed said.
Somalia has never won a medal at the Olympic games.
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