3 Somali youth track stars racing through record books in Minneapolis

Three young Minneapolis kids are racing through the record books in Minneapolis. They’ve got dreams of Olympic gold in track and field, and once you see how fast they are, you'll know why.

Mahamad Salad, Teysir Yussuf and Musa Ali are members of the Cedar-Riverside community school's running club. Last month, at a USA Track and Field meet in Minnesota for youth, the running club was very well represented on the winner's podium.

Salad ran the 3,000 meter in 9:51, a pace on par to qualify him for nationals, while Yussuf came in first in his age group, and Ali placed third in his -- even though he ran an extra lap, and was wearing a polo shirt because he overslept.

"I like challenges,” Salad said.  “I like things that are hard for me. I don’t like things that are easy."

But this weekend, the group will be facing their toughest test yet, at the regional track competition in Iowa.

"When you are running, you are playing against yourself,” Salad said.  “You have to push yourself, talk to yourself, push your limits, nobody else's.  That's one of the things I love about running."

Coach Jennifer Weber said after three years of competing in 5k, one and two mile races, the so-called “soaring eagles" are ready to stretch their legs.

"I think we have a lot of kids who have Olympic potential,” Weber said.

They say life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. But for these “soaring eagles,” the sky’s the limit.

"I want to change when people say ‘I want to run like a Kenyan’ to ‘I want to run like a Somalian.’" Salad said.  "Changing that whole perspective of Somalian people. I want to represent my country, my people, and go to the Olympics someday."

The running club has been so popular that members of the Somali community are even raising money to help pay for running clothes and shoes.

Update (7/13): Mahamed Salad and Teysir Yussuf both made it to nationals. Salad will compete in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters and Yussuf will compete in the 3,000 meters at nationals.