An official says one of Somalia's best female athletes drowned after the small boat she was riding in capsized off the Libyan coast during an attempted crossing to Italy for training a month ago.

The deputy chairman for Somalia's athletics federation said Tuesday Samia Yusuf Omar was traveling from Ethiopia, where she lived, to Libya and then Italy to train for the London Olympics.

Qadijo Aden Dahir, the deputy chairman, said: "It's a sad death...She was our favorite for the London Olympics." Samsam Mohamed ran instead of Omar.

Omar ran in the 200 meters race at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and placed last in her qualifying heat.

Omar's death is another setback for sports in Somalia and it is unclear why it is only being discussed weeks late. In April a suicide attack killed the president of Somalia's Olympic committee and the head of its soccer federation.