Members of the first Refugee Olympic Team who took part in the 2016 Rio Olympics have shared how they triumphed in spite of the refugee crisis to reach the very top of their individual sport.
Presenting their life experiences at the recently concluded Global Education and Skills Forum, GESF, they spoke on the topic of ‘Triumph Against Adversity: How a Team of Refugees Achieved the Pinnacle of Sporting Excellence’. The forum was held at Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai.
The distinguished list of speakers at last week's event included Popole Misenga, Olympic Judoka, Republic of Congo, Yonlande Bukasa Mabika, Olympic Judoka, Republic of Congo, Yonas Kinde, Olympic Marathoner, Ethiopia, and Rami Anis, Olympic Swimmer, Syria. They were moderated by Geraldo De Moreaes Bernardes, Olympic Judo Coach from Brazil.
The Olympians discussed the tragedies and unfortunate accidents they experienced in their lives and the courage they displayed in overpowering them.
Bernardes said, "Popole and Yonlande are two refugees who came to Brazil in 2013 and were at one point homeless before I trained them with the dream of making a refugee Olympic team. Participating at the Olympics was a great 30 days experience for them, and they are now financially stable with aim of participating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics."
Misenga shared his experiences, saying, "As a refugee from the Congo to Brazil in 2013, I was on the streets before Flavio Canto, creator of Instituto Reacao, a non-governmental organisation that promotes human development and social inclusion through sports and education, took me in and helped me practice Judo free of charge."
Yonas Kinde said, "I am thankful for my sponsors, who have also supported me throughout the process and would also like to say that I am proud to be a part of this year’s Global Education and Skills Forum, which has provided me with the ideal platform to spread the message to as many people possible, especially that there is a good number of people who are in the same situation as me."
Rami Anis said, "My journey as a swimmer began in Syria when I was only six years old before problems in my country forced me to flee from my hometown to Turkey and then Belgium to pursue my passion. The Olympics Committee has supported me and provided me with a key opportunity, which I hope to build on until Tokyo 2020 and hopefully beyond that. For everyone who is listening to me today, my message for them is to never give up and keep following their dreams because being a refugee is not our choice."
© Copyright 2019 Emirates News Agency (WAM)