Meet All The Athletes of The Refugee Olympic Team of 2016

To shed a light on the refugee crisis, the Olympic Games in Rio will have a Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) competing this summer. One team, ten members. And everyone has their own unbelievable story. With their background and difficult experiences they come to Rio to show the world their talent and skills. They are an inspiration and a source of hope and that’s why Mvslim wants you to meet all ten members of the team. So here they are.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith is from South Sudan. She fled her home when she was just eight years old. Even through difficult times, Anjelina worked hard and it payed off. She earned a spot on the Olympic Refugee Team and will compete in the 1500 metres.

Anjelina

Yolande Mabika is a refugee from The Congo and currently lives in Brasil. Because of the war she was orphaned and at a very young age she fled her country. ‘I will be like an example’, she says. ‘An example to the world. They can do like I’m doing. They can win the medal.’ Yolande will compete in judo.

Yolande

Rose Nathike Lokonyen was only ten years old when she fled the war in South Sudan. Now she will be competing in the 800 metres. She says, ‘I want to bring people together and come as a team.’

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Yiech Pur Biel was also born in South Sudan and fled to Kenya alone when he was just a teenager. He feels his participation in the Olympics is something big and he wishes to be an ambassador for refugees all over the world. He will compete in the 800 metres.

Yiech Pur Biel, 21, refugee from South Sudan runs the 800m. ; Yiech Pur Biel knew early on that if he wanted to make it in life, he would have to do so on his own. Forced to flee the fighting in southern Sudan in 2005, he ended up on his own in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. He started playing football there, but grew frustrated at having to rely so much on his teammates. With running he felt greater control over his own destiny. ìMost of us face a lot of challenges,î says Yiech. ìIn the refugee camp, we have no facilities ñ even shoes we donít have. There is no gym. Even the weather does not favour training because from morning up to the evening it is so hot and sunny.î Yet he stayed motivated. ìI focused on my country, South Sudan, because we young people are the people who can change it,î he says. ìAnd secondly, I focused on my parents. I need to change the life they are living.î Competing in the 800 metres at Rio, Yiech says, could help him to become an ambassador for refugees everywhere. ìI can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life. Through education, but also in running, you can change the world.î

To avoid being taken a child soldier, James Nyang Chiengjiek had to flee his village when he was thirteen years old. He sought refuge in Kenya and started training there with a group of runners. His motivation and strenght brought him all the way to Rio, where he will be competing in the 800 metres.

Yiech

Yusra Mardini is from Syria and only seventeen years old. She trains in Berlin and will compete in the 100 metres freestyle. She says, ‘You are an athlete, you don’t think about whether you’re Syrian or from Germany. I think about my lane, my race, my swimming lessons; that’s it.’

Yusra

Yonas Kinde fled Ethopia due to political problems and went to Luxembourg where he also trained for the Olympics. ‘Even if our situation is difficult, we still can have a good result’, he says. Yonas will compete in the marathon discipline.

Yonas Kinde, 36, from Ethiopia is hoping to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ; On a hill overlooking the city of Luxembourg, Yonas Kinde glides around the running track with determination and grace. “I get power, and more and more power,” the Ethiopian marathoner says afterwards, a wide smile breaking out over his slender face. “I normally train every day, but when I heard this news [about the refugee team] I trained two times per day, every day, targeting for these Olympic Games. It’s a big motivation.” Yonas, who has lived in Luxembourg for five years now, rarely stops moving. He’s been taking French classes regularly, and driving a taxi to earn a living, all the while pushing himself to become a better runner. In Germany last October, he completed a marathon in the impressive time of 2 hours and 17 minutes. But memories of fleeing his home remain uncomfortable territory. “It’s a difficult situation,” he says about life in Ethiopia. “It’s impossible for me to live there… It’s very dangerous for my life.” For Yonas, the chance to run with the world’s best in Rio de Janeiro is much more than another race. “I think it will be the big message that refugees, young athletes, they can do their best,” he says. “Of course we have problems – we are refugees – but we can do everything in the refugee camp, so it will help refugee athletes.”

Paulo Amotun Lokoro was born in South Sudan and fled to Kenya in 2006. ‘you represent refugees’, he says. ‘I raise a flag and show that I am one of the refugees in the camp and look where I am now.’ Paulo will compete in the 1,500 metres.

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Rami Anis fled from Aleppo, Syria in 2011. He now lives in Belgium where he trained for the Olympics. His coach says, “Rami would’ve gone to the Olympics if there was no war in Syria. He has already competed in different competitions before the war such as the World Championships and the Asian Championships since he was sixteen years old.” Rami will compete in the 100 metres butterfly.

Anis

Popole Misenga is from The Congo and was only nine years old when he left his village. During the Worldchampionships in Rio in 2013, he made the decision to seek asylum there.
He wants to represent all the refugees of the world. ‘My medal will be a medal of the refugees’, he says. He will compete in Judo, category -90 kg.

Popole

Written by Anissa Doudouh

Anissa Doudouh

Anissa is a 24 year old master student Political Science. Besides politics, she has a passion for fashion, history and Moroccan architecture. Always open to discuss anything with anyone. Opinionated.