From a war-torn region in South Sudan, to the snow-filled terrains of Switzerland, this compelling new documentary captures the inspiring story of Dominic Lobalu’s meteoric rise in world athletics.
ZURICH, Switzerland, June 20th, 2023 — His childhood dream was to be a runner. Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu was a 9-year-old boy orphaned by war in South Sudan who escaped to a refugee camp in Northern Kenya before being discovered on the streets of Nairobi and eventually finding a home with the Athlete Refugee Team. Dominic’s remarkable story of personal growth, courage, and gripping determination in his quest for representation is now revealed in a full-length feature film being released ahead of this year’s World Athletics Championships.
In association with Hungry Man Productions, the Swiss sportswear company, On, presents “The Right to Race” – an original documentary written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Richard Bullock. Developed with archive footage compiled from as early as 2017, the new film follows Dominic from his beginnings in Nairobi to life in London, Copenhagen, Monaco, and Brussels.
In 2017, at age 19, Dominic was recruited by the Athlete Refugee Team’s renowned Olympian, founder, and coach, Tegla Loroupe. While traveling overseas in Geneva for an international competition, Dominic left the team unannounced and sought asylum in Switzerland, forfeiting any chance of representing the official Olympic Refugee Team in Tokyo. At age 21, Dominic had a chance meeting with Markus Hagmann, his soon-to-be mentor, and coach, who eventually took the African runner under his wing and developed his mental and physical strength as a competitive athlete. Winning the Diamond League 3000m in Stockholm in 2022, his first Diamond League event, was the beginning of Dominic’s journey as an elite competitor, challenging the world’s best. At age 24, he is currently excluded from official Refugee teams and has up to 10 years before being granted citizenship to represent his own nation.
“Right to Race” is a captivating story of unwavering fortitude and charisma that personifies the enduring human spirit,” says Feliciano Robayna, the film’s Executive Producer and Global Head of Sports Marketing at On. “We have been following Dominic’s journey from his origins to his new home and life as a leading athlete in Switzerland. Despite all the setbacks, he has grown to become one of today’s most respected competitors on the world stage. His story is not only about competing and making it to the top but also about representation and belonging. His dreams will undoubtedly come true, thanks to his belief in himself and the support of those around him.”
The film centers around the special relationship forged between Dominic and his coach in Switzerland, Markus Hagmann—a relationship born from a shared love of running. Lobalu’s struggle to be recognized by World Athletics as an international contender, representing his home country, takes center stage as negotiations continue with the governing body of the sport.
“The Right to Race is largely a story on the trials and tribulations of a refugee athlete,” says Richard Bullock. “It’s also a touching story of how a growing friendship is able to persevere and as a united front, never give up the fight. We were also glad to capture the innermost thoughts and feelings of those who represent World Athletics as a compelling juxtaposition on how the sport’s authority views and responds to the plight of Dominic, as a refugee, trying to claim his identity not just as an athlete but as a human.”
Partner at Hungry Man Productions and award-winning filmmaker Richard Bullock has collaborated with On to write and direct other popular short films, including “RUN: The Athlete Refugee Team Story” and the award-winning animated production “Black Ice”.
The Right to Race will be broadcast in 53 countries on Eurosport 1 on World Refugee Day, June 20th, during Prime Time. The film will also be shown during relevant sporting events, such as the World Athletics Championships 2023, and be made available on Discovery+ streaming services throughout Europe.
Presented by On and Hungry Man Productions, “The Right to Race” can now be seen at http://righttorace.com
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Vikki McGill Aspire PR, On Media Relations