An Olympic dream set to come true for refugees

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If you ever want to see one of your countrymen come second best to another athlete, then it would be to these group of Olympians.

However, these are not normal professional athletes.

Selected from two camps in Africa, and multiple shelters across Europe, the athletes will compete under no flag, no national anthem, and no home.


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For the first time in history of the Olympic Games, a refugee team has been selected in various sports.

President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach made the decision back in March 2016 to choose up to ten athletes to compete at the games to highlight the worldwide situation of the migrants.

South Sudanese, Syrian, Congolese, and an Ethiopian have all been selected to compete in sports, ranging from swimming, to long distance running, to judo.

Although the lack of professional training and realistic medal hopes won’t dampen their experience, they are likely to win the hearts of millions around the world.

All escaped from war–torn countries and unsafe environments, each athlete has a story to tell. A journey which will unlikely be matched by any other athlete from competing nations.

The two swimmers from Syria are Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini, who both made journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, risking their life in a rubber dingy for a new life of prospects and a prosperous future.

After travelling across the open seas to Greece, the two athletes settled in Belgium and Germany respectively, where they continued training for their dream.

The Syrian migrant situation has been well documented in the media, however, the selection of the refugee team will hopefully bring a similar case in central Africa more to the forefront of public knowledge.

Civil war and the recruitment for young soldiers have forced millions of young Africans to escape their homes. Militia groups and the actions of the military have targeted villages in rural locations.

Five South Sudanese nationals will all compete in track and field events and have been training in Nairobi, Kenya, in preparation for the events.

After leaving their country during the civil war, all athletes found their new talent after becoming refugees. Training bare foot on Kenyan soil has seen potential to impress in the 800m and 1,500m events.

Congolese nationals will see them turn out on the Judo mats while the single Ethiopian athlete will be dusting off his marathon shoes as he heads to the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

No gold medal will be worthy of these individual cases of migration, enduring months of hardship only to better their prospects and lives.

However, demonstrating the refugee’s plight to the wider world will be of a greater worth to these ten individuals.

What event are YOU most looking forward to watching at this year's Olympics? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Greg Rutherford
Tyson Gay
Commonwealth Games
Usain Bolt
Mo Farah

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