A former UN peacekeeper living in Peterborough is hoping to get hearts racing in his new career as a male model.
Former police officer Omar Saidykhan has gone from having stones thrown at his car in the streets of East Timor to suiting up on the runway for the prestigious ‘Face Of The World’ competition at the Birmingham International Fashion Week.
Omar of Newark Close, Parnwell, hopes success at the event today (Saturday, September 5) in front of talent scouts will boost his modelling career just a year after he decided to try out the profession.
The 34-year-old joined his cousin in Peterborough from Gambia five years ago having previously joined the UN as a peacekeeper in East Timor which was suffering from internal conflict after establishing independence from Indonesia.
Omar spent a year in the Asian country assisting the local police force, an experience he admitted was scary due to his car being stoned.
He said: “At the beginning it was difficult because there was a language barrier but it was a good experience. I always like to serve people, that’s why I signed up.”
Omar currently works for security firm Securitas, but was persuaded by his friend Angela Latimer a year ago to try out modelling because of the way he took care of himself at the gym.
Omar said: “I always like to look fit. I take it seriously. Angela told me ‘I feel you have potential to go into modelling’. I said let’s give it a try.
“We did some photos and they were brilliant.”
Omar competed in his first competition in July, the Rob Reinaldo Classic, which is named after a Peterborough strongman.
And he defied his inexperience by coming third in the male beach body competition, finishing ahead of people who had been competing for years.
It was a pleasing start for Omar but he now hopes to achieve something even more remarkable in Birmingham when the stakes and the standard will be higher.
Omar will be judged on photographs taken of himself and how he performs on the runway where the themes are original funky dress and black suit.
And if he is successful against around a dozen other competitors then a contract with a top agency could be on the cards.
Asked about winning the ‘Face Of The World’ competition, Omar said: “I would be proud of myself and it would make people proud of me.
“It’s a stepping stone. If it goes well I will definitely want to take it on as a full-time career.”
Omar’s training for Saturday includes improving his posing. He added: “I watch YouTube videos or stand in front of the mirror. I work myself in the gym and practice how I walk.
“It’s all about your appearance and how you walk in public.”