Mother, humanitarian and long distance runner Eloise Wellings is on a mission of Olympic proportions which goes beyond the Rio Games and all the way to Uganda.
By
Ann Odong

Source:
SBS Radio
19 Mar 2016 - 2:44 PM  UPDATED 21 Jul 2016 - 8:05 AM

Athletics can be a solitary endeavour and long distance running can be the most solitary of them all.

However, for Australian long distance runner Eloise Wellings, her journey on and off the track is for more than just herself.  Wellings runs not just for her country but for the women of Northern Uganda. 

It has been part of her drive since the 33-year-old was a founding director of founding Director of the not-for-profit Love Mercy Foundation in 2009.

"I start to get a little bit emotional about that,” said Wellings.

“Yeah, I'll just be running along, and the faces just pop into my head, and I just remember, you know, why I do it and why I run."

Northern Uganda has been the location for one of Africa's longest running, and long forgotten, wars.  It is a war that has caused devastation, brought poverty to millions and seen millions more of refugees flee, including my own family.

Wellings and Love Mercy’s Caitlin Barrett Chief Executive have been working to empower women and girls through projects which increase access to education, health care, and income generation.

Love Mercy's new project is a micro farming loan program called Cents for Seeds. Wellings explains:

"Thirty dollars will sponsor a woman in Uganda to go through the program. And she receives 30 kilos of seeds. And with those seeds, she goes and grows and harvests those seeds. And out of that, she averages between 150 to 300 kilos of food."

Barrett says that the Olympian is key to Love Mercy’s objective of reaching over six thousand women. 

"I know that, as Eloise's colleague and as her friend, that that's the motivation behind her running career,” she stated. 

“The reason that she runs is to bring awareness to our projects and our programs, and that's her motivation for training every day and for getting out and leaving it all out on the track."

For Wellings Rio 2016 will be her second Olympics with the 5,000-metre and 10,000-metre specialist is aiming to better her results from London 2012. 

Top eight is the goal. It’s an ambitious one but then again Wellings hasn’t shied away from big dreams on and off the track. 

“Rio is about trying to get the best out of myself and absolutely trying to give an out-of-my-skin performance. And to do that, we need to take measured risks."

"We're going to definitely be taking more risks than we were in London,” she said.

“London was about having the experience, actually becoming an Olympian finally after so much heartbreak and setback.”

“Rio is about trying to get the best out of myself and absolutely trying to give an out-of-my-skin performance. And to do that, we need to take measured risks."

So this Rio 2016 Olympics, I will be cheering loudly for Eloise Wellings as she represents two different countries; one of my past and one of my future. 


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