News & Media

#MovedByLondon: Maya Ghazal

In 2015, Maya Ghazal left Syria for the UK, hoping for better opportunities to gain an education. Now, Maya is studying Aviation Engineering with the ambition of becoming a pilot.

Having discovered the benefits of running, Maya is set to take on The Vitality Big Half on Sunday 10 March 2019.

In running The Vitality Big Half, Maya wants to champion the diversity of the city of London and represent equality for all.

This is Maya’s story.

"I arrived in the UK from Syria in 2015. The situation there was only getting worse, it was hard to get access to education and the best decision was to leave. As a 16-year-old, adjusting to life in the UK was challenging - finding a place at a school and learning English was really tough.

"Almost four years on I’m studying Aviation Engineering with the hope of one day being a pilot. Only five per cent of pilots across the world are female and I would like to play a part in increasing that number.

"For me, exercise is basically about setting myself free, finding out about my body’s ability and how far I can go.

"I started with the rowing team at my university last year and I just wanted to discover myself and the abilities of my body again. After rowing, I started to run and I discovered that it’s a very relieving thing to do. Every time I run I feel like I’m running freely and on my own terms.

"The Vitality Big Half matters to me because it’s all about diversity and the diversity in London’s community. Whether it’s Syrians, females or Muslims I just want to be there to represent the diversity in London’s community.

"I never thought I’d be capable of running a half marathon and I want to discover how far I can go. I hope to achieve some kind of equality by the end of it – to show people that we’re all capable of the same things."

Entry into The Vitality Big Half on Sunday 10 March 2019 is open to residents of the four host boroughs – Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

You can also now sign up to take part in two other events at The Vitality Big Half running festival: The Little Half or The Vitality Big Mile.

Maya Ghazal is one of six Community Champions who will be sharing their running stories as part of The Vitality Big Half #MovedByLondon campaign. Look out for more from our Community Champions over the coming weeks.