Australia’s 800m Olympic hope that Peter Bol fled Sudan has spent years in a refugee camp in Egypt

Peter Bol was four years old when his family fled war-torn Sudan to a refugee camp in Egypt.

After four long years in the misery and poverty of the camp, his life changed forever as the family flew to a bright new future in Australia.

Fast forward 19 years and Bol is still active – for Australia … and faster than any Australian before him.

On Sunday evening, he left the rest of the field trembling in his wake as he won the semi-final of the 800m track event in an Australian record time of 1:44.11.

Peter Bol fled war-torn Sudan to a refugee camp in Egypt before starting a new life in Australia.  He won his 800m semifinal on Sunday and is now a favorite for an Olympic medal

Peter Bol fled war-torn Sudan to a refugee camp in Egypt before starting a new life in Australia. He won his 800m semifinal on Sunday and is now a favorite for an Olympic medal

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols' potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols' potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols’ potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

He crawled across the finish line, even relaxing long enough to wag his finger to celebrate, to become the first Aussie in 53 years to reach an Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won gold in Mexico City in 1968. .

But he has never forgotten the sense of hope and relief he and his family felt when they got off the plane in Australia in 2002.

“It was very different, it was just fun, even the air was fresh and it was just a feeling — pretty much the same feeling when you just made it to the Olympics — a sense of excitement,” he admitted in 2016.

‘We came to Australia for the obvious reason – Australia is one of the best countries in the world…I’ve been to a few countries and Australia is the best country to be in so my family definitely has the right ones made a choice.’

On Sunday night, Bol (pictured) left the rest of the field trembling in his wake as he won the semi-final of the 800m track event in an Australian record time of 1:44.11

On Sunday night, Bol (pictured) left the rest of the field trembling in his wake as he won the semi-final of the 800m track event in an Australian record time of 1:44.11

On Sunday night, Bol (pictured) left the rest of the field trembling in his wake as he won the semi-final of the 800m track event in an Australian record time of 1:44.11

Bol (pictured) is the first Aussie in 53 years to reach an Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won gold in Mexico City in 1968

Bol (pictured) is the first Aussie in 53 years to reach an Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won gold in Mexico City in 1968

Bol (pictured) is the first Aussie in 53 years to reach an Olympic 800m final since Ralph Doubell won gold in Mexico City in 1968

He added: ‘I don’t have many memories of back home in Sudan, there was a civil war then and we moved to Egypt to get through to Australia.

‘[In] Egypt, I remember always being with my family, it was still a little hard to be there, it was a little hard to live there. They weren’t all good memories.’

That all changed when he arrived in Australia, first in Queensland before moving to Perth and later to Melbourne.

But he only fell accidentally in the 800m.

Bole, 27 and 178 cm, originally only wanted to be a basketball player.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw his potential as a runner after watching him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take it seriously.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols' potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols' potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

A teacher at his school in Perth saw Bols’ potential as a runner after seeing him compete in a cross-country event at age 16 and persuaded him to take up more running.

Bole, (pictured first across the line) 27 and 178 cm, originally only wanted to be a basketball player

Bole, (pictured first across the line) 27 and 178 cm, originally only wanted to be a basketball player

Bole, (pictured first across the line) 27 and 178 cm, originally only wanted to be a basketball player

But even then, he only saw it as a way to improve his basketball skills.

“Shortly after an athletics school carnival, one of my teachers, Helen Leahy, approached me and convinced me to join an athletics club,” he said. Athletics Australia.

Mrs. Leahy promised to find him a club, a mentor and a coach.

“I thought it was a good deal, mainly because it meant I would be fitter for basketball, so I agreed and she did it.”

Since then, he has never looked back.

At the age of 19 he won the national title in the junior 800m in 1:48.90 and reduced that time to 1:45.41 within three years. A disappointing Olympics in Rio in 2016 saw him finish sixth in his heat.

But the following year, he bounced back, improving his PB even more, to miss the Commonwealth Games in early 2018 due to a stress fracture.

Bol (who won his heat on Sunday night) was the second fastest overall qualifier, just 7/100th of a second behind Kenyan Ferguson Rotich who ran 1:44.04.

Bol (who won his heat on Sunday night) was the second fastest overall qualifier, just 7/100th of a second behind Kenyan Ferguson Rotich who ran 1:44.04.

Bol (who won his heat on Sunday night) was the second fastest overall qualifier, just 7/100th of a second behind Kenyan Ferguson Rotich who ran 1:44.04.

Since then, he has focused on Tokyo, becoming the fastest Australian ever in the 800m, with his best result last year in Monaco with a time of 1:44.96.

Until Sunday evening, when he tore up the form books with his sensational run.

And if Bol can match that performance in Wednesday’s decider, he has every chance of a podium place.

Bol was the second fastest overall qualifier, just 7/100th of a second behind Kenyan Ferguson Rotich who ran 1:44.04. Fellow Australians Charlie Hunter and Jeff Riseley were eliminated in the semi-finals.

“I put myself in the best position to qualify,” Bol told Channel Seven. “Even if I hadn’t, I would have been happy with it.

“The job is done today, but there’s still a lot to do. We should not underestimate these runners. Someone can come out every day.’

He added: ‘I went to Europe for three weeks and played two races; they weren’t the best in terms of positions, but they were the best for preparation.

“When I went to Gateshead and came in third, I said: [manager James Templeton and coach Justin Rinaldi] I think we can win a medal.

“I didn’t want to get too excited, I had to get to the final first. But we’re making history here, two Australian records in a row and I’m looking forward to the final.’

The men’s 800 meters final starts on Wednesday at 10.05 pm.

Bol (right, with fellow 800m runner Alex Rowe) has every chance of a podium place on Monday evening

Bol (right, with fellow 800m runner Alex Rowe) has every chance of a podium place on Monday evening

Bol (right, with fellow 800m runner Alex Rowe) has every chance of a podium place on Monday evening

.