Death of the first Palestinian Olympic athlete, Majed Abu Maraheel. By X

Majed Abu Maraheel, the first Palestinian athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, has died in Gaza at the age of 61 due to a lack of medical treatment for kidney failure in his country.

Abu Maraheel, a long-distance runner, made history as the flag bearer for Palestine at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, competing in the 10km race. Since then, more than 20 Palestinian athletes have followed in his footsteps, competing in various Olympic events.

In the Olympic Games held in the United States, the Palestinian athlete finished 21st with a time of 34:40.50. The lack of medical care caused by the ongoing conflict in Gaza was the cause of death for the first Olympic athlete in the history of the country.

Abu Maraheel died in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Power cuts and a lack of medical supplies severely hampered his ability to receive the treatment he needed. His brother shared the family's struggle, noting their unsuccessful attempt to transfer him to Egypt for medical treatment due to the closure of the Rafah border crossing.

A popular figure in the Palestinian sporting world, Abu Maraheel was known for his daily training runs from Gaza to the Erez crossing into Israel. This route, once open for his work as a day labourer, has been closed and severely restricted, further complicating the lives of Gazans.

After competing in the Olympics, Abu Maraheel dedicated his life to training other athletes, such as Nader el-Masri, who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His impact on Palestinian sport was profound, inspiring many young athletes to pursue their dreams on the international stage.

Paying tribute to him, the Palestine Athletics Federation said: "The great is gone. The good one is gone. The Olympic runner is gone. He left after carrying the flag and running crying on the Atlanta track. He left, the one who stopped the world to live in Palestine in 1996".