The Olympic Refugee Team comprising of 29 athletes will be representing the Olympic Flag in this edition of Olympics at Tokyo.
Abdullah Sediqi – Taekondo
Tekondo has been a guiding light for Abdullah Sediqi since he fled from Afghanistan. Sediqi feared for his life in his native place after he received threats due to his sporting ability. Now settled in Wilrijk, a neighbourhood of Antwerp in Belgium, Abdullah Sediqi said:
“Countries can come together through sport, it doesn’t matter who you are. Black, white, woman, man, or whatever country they’re from.”
Ahmad Alikaj – Judo
Born in Syria, Ahmad Alikaj left his native place due to constant wars there. Ahmad moved to Germany and is ready to compete in the 73 kg category.
Ahmad Badreddin Wais – Cycling
A Syrian by birth, Ahmad Badreddin Wais took to Cycling when he was only 14. Soon war broke out in Syria and he was left alone in his country by his parents as he chose to stay and continue practice through the Syrian Civil War. But in 2014 he had to leave his country. As a refugee, he travelled by car, boat, ship and finally reached Switzerland by plane. The journey left Wais emotionally and physically tired. He did not train for more than a year after that. But once the phase was over, Ahmad Wais was back to Cycling and his yar he would be in the Olympics.
Aker Al Obaidi – Wrestling
At 14, Obaidi saw his hometown Mosul being taken over by an extremist group. He found that boys around his age were forcefully recruited into that group. Obaidi fled the country leaving behind his family in Iraq. He headed for Europe, and eventually ended up in Austria, where he was granted asylum. The Austrian Wrestling Federation extended their full support to Obaidi and attended several European Wrestling competitions over the past few years before being included in this edition of the Olympics in 67 kg of Greco-Roman category.
Alaa Maso – Swimming
Another Syrian by birth, Alaa Maso found peace in the pool after he was forced to leave his homeland and became a refugee in Germany. The journey through many places in Europe and finally reaching Germany was quite long and tiresome. But Alaa, who started Swimming at the age of 4, never let the swimmer in him die. Alaa has now rebuilt his life and ready to be a part of the Olympic Refugee Team of 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith – Athletics
Born in Sudan, Anjelina Lohalith saw civil war and violence gripping her country when she was very young. Due to the increasing turmoil there, Anjelina was sent away to Kenya by her parents to settle in Kakuma Refugee Camp, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. It was in the camp that Anjelina started her education as well as Running. Presently, she runs 1500 m Race and is a part of both 2016 and 2020 Olympic Refugee Team.
Aram Mahmoud – Badminton
Aram Mahmoud started feeling that his dream of playing Badminton in international circuit was gradually fading away in his war-torn homeland. It was in 2015 when Syria was caught in one of the worst civil wars, Aram Mahmoud was left with no option other than to escape from Damascus in order to continue his sporting career. On arriving at Netherlands, Aram was placed in a changed scenario where in an unknown land he confronted an unknown language in the midst of a complete unknown culture. But Badminton was his protector against all odds and with a wonderful display of skill and patience, Aram was selected for representing the Olympic Refugee Team in Tokyo.
Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet II – Weightlifting
The 19-year old Cyrille Fagat Tchatchet represented Cameroon in Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. But at the end of the Games, he fled the team camp for reasons he could not disclose. Cyrille lived on streets, had nothing to eat and even thought of finishing his life. His emotional distress was taken care of by a charity organisation and he was moved to an immigration removal centre in Dover. He thought that he would be deported but eventually was rehoused in Birmingham. It was here that Cyrille started training and he became a British champion at 94kg and 96kg with a host of national records in Weightlifting. Cyrille Tchatchet is now a model student who graduated with a first-class degree from Middlesex University and will be present in the Tokyo Olympics representing the Olympic Refugee Team.
Dina Pouryounes Langeroudi – Taekwondo
Dina Pouryounes’ embraced Taekwondo to channelise her frustration after she was forced to flee Iran in 2015 and settle as a refugee in Netherlands. The sport gave her respite but what was more important was Dina’s talent in Taekwondo that came to the forefront. In September 2015 she won her first international medal at the Polish Open while she was still living in an asylum centre. It was no looking back for Dina Pouryounes after that. She climbed the ladder by winning different World Championships and her efforts helped her to gain a place in the Olympic Refugee Team. Presently, Dina has 34 world ranking medals, and was the World No. 3 in -49kg in April 2020.
Dorian Keletela – Athletics
He wants his name to be remembered as an inspiration to the young people. Dorian Keletela came to Portugal in 2016 after his parents died in a conflict in Congo. Six years later he will be competing aside some of the fastest athletes on this planet at the Olympics. Keletela ran 100m in 10.46s in August 2020, and therefore expectations are high surrounding his performance.
Eldric Samuel Sella Rodriguez – Boxing
Eldric Rodriguez was a boxer in his homeland, Venezuela, who was part of the national team. But in 2014 when economic crisis engulfed the country with political turmoil ravaging apart the citizens, Eldric was forced to leave his family and find refuge in Trinidad and Tobago. Since then he is representing the Caribbean Island and will be representing the Olympic Refugee Team in 2020 Tokyo Games.
Hamoon Derafshipour – Karate
Hamoon Derafshipour won the 2018 World Championships representing his homeland Iran. But he has to leave his country and settle in Canada as he wanted his wife to be his coach that was impossible in Iran due to the country’s existing rules. Derafshipour now resides in Canada and is selected in the olympic Refugee Team.
Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed – Athletics
When war broke out in the Darfur region of western Sudan, Jamal Mohammed’s father was killed. Since then he tried to escape his country but failed due to his mother’s wishes. Finally in 2010 he fled his country and found refuge in Israel. It was there he discovered his long-distance running ability and soon became a runner representing local clubs. Jamal is one of the members of the refugee team in this edition of the Olympics.
James Chiengjiek Nyang – Athletics
He participated in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and James Chiengjiek has been once again selected as a member of the Olympic Refugee Team. South Sudan born Chiengjiek fled his country to avoid being recruited for the war as a child soldier. He found shelter in the in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya where he went to school and started running.
Javad Mahjoub – Judo
Born as an Iranian, Javad Mahjoub could not pursue in sporting career as per his wish due to pressure from the Iranian government. In the 2012 Summer Olympics Mahjoub had to withdrew from the competition because he might had to face an Israeli judoka which was regarded as an act of pride by the Iranian sports ministry. Javad, after that incident, left Iran and settled in Canada as a refugee.
Kimia Alizadeh Zenozi – Taekwondo
Kimia Zenozi won a gold medal at the World Junior Taekwondo Championships in 2014 and became a celebrity in Iran. Born in a modest family, Kimia always wanted to be different and at 18 she became her nation’s first female Olympic medallist. On her return, she was given a hero’s welcome and was regarded as a ‘tsunami’ in her country. But in January 2020, Kimia fled her home country, calling herself ‘one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran’. The athlete now resides in Nuremberg where she pursues her sporting career and works towards naturalisation.
Luna Solomon – Shooting
Luna Solomon grew up in Eritrea where Shooting is an unknown sport. So she decided to escape from her homeland and reached Switzerland. Solomon trained under the guidance of Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani and is chosen to represent the Olympic Refugee Team.
Masomah Ali Zada – CYCLING
Masomah Ali Zada, born and brought up in Afghanistan, found it extremely difficult to cycle as a female in her home country. She wanted to pursue a sporting career in Cycling and therefore, along with his sister, escaped to France where they found asylum under humanitarian visa. Aged 24, Zada has qualified for the Olympics and will be seen in Tokyo.
Muna Dahouk – Judo
At the age of 6, Muna Dahouk started Judo at Damascus under the guidance of her father who was a Judo coach. But Muna left Syria to be at Netherlands and now competes in the -63kg category.
Nigara Shaheen – Judo
Born in Afghanistan, Nigara Shaheen started Judo at the age of 11. As the Talibans forbade women to participate in sports, she went to Pakistan as a refugee and practiced martial arts. Nigara now competes in the -70kg category.
Paulo Amotun Lokoro – Athletics
Paulo Lokoro is an experienced Olympian having already participated in Rio Olympics. He is a Marathon runner originally from South Sudan but now living in Kenya. He travelled to Kenya in 2006 to escape the Sudanese Civil War and took refuge in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Lokoro is training hard for this year’s Olympics and hopes to better his ranking this year.
Popole Misenga – Judo
As a professional judoka, Popole Misenga represented the Democratic Republic of the Congo in international competitions. But facing difficult training condition there, he decided to move to Brazil during the World Judo Championships in Rio in 2013. Popole now trains in an institute that helps revival of youth affected by poverty and crime.
Rose Nathike Likonyen – Athletics
Rose Likonyen has been selected in the Olympic Refugee Team to compete in 800 m track and field event. She was part of the first refugee team in Olympic history and was the flag bearer. At the age of 10, Lokonyen with her family fled South Sudan to reach Kenya. Rose will get the rare opportunity to compete in two Olympics.
Saeid Fazloula – Canoe
Saeid Fazloula is a canoe sprinter who was forced to flee Iran in 2015. He risked his life through the Balkan route to reach Germany. Saeid trained in Germany but he represented his homeland in Asian Championships. He also became three-time Asian runner-up while competing for Iran. This made his official status complicated and Fazloula had to campaign for many years to gain the right to represent refugees at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sanda Aldass – Judo
The Syrian-born judoka, Sanda Aldass, left her country to settle in Netherlands as a refugee. Sanda escaped from Damascus in 2015 leaving her husband and coach Fadi Darwish and their young son. She stayed for nine months in the refugee camp in Netherlands after which she was reunited with her family. Sanda had to take some years off from Judo due to the birth of her second and third child. But it is the inspiration from her children that kept her motivated to compete at the Olympics. Finally, it is her time when she will be seen at the Tokyo Olympics under the Olympic Flag.
Tachlowini Gabriyesos – Athletics
At the age of 12, Tachlowini Gabriyesos crossed miles to journey from his native Eritrea to northwards across Sudan and Egypt. He then crossed the desert on foot to reach Israel. Presently, Gabriyesos stays and practices at Tel Aviv. In 2020 and 2021, Gabriyesos has competed over 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, the half marathon and the marathon. He is just 23 and is an exciting talent in the Olympic Refugee Team.
Wael Shueb – Karate
Wael Shueb re-settled in Germany after fleeing his country. In 2015, he escaped from Damascus by boat to Turkey and then travelled through Macedonia on bike to reach Germany. Shueb was a part-time martial art coach in Damascus; he continued to be one in Germany too. Karate helped him integrate into his new life in Europe. He is currently a top-ranked player in his discipline in Germany.
Wessam Salamana – Boxing
Wessam Salamana represented Syria in 2012 Olympics but he left the country in 2015 with his family due to constant war over there. This year, at 35 years of age, Wessam will be participating in his second Olympics after a nine-year hiatus. Now he trains Voelklingen near Saarbrücken with experienced coach Heiko Staack.
Yusra Mardini – Swimming
The Syrian native, Yusra Mardini, will participate in her second Olympics. In 2016, she was the member of the Olympic Refugee Team. Mardini, now based in Germany since fled her home country in 2015 in a boat full of fellow refugees through the Aegean Sea. Swimming has helped her to revive and reinstall self-confidence in her ownself. Yusra is also an author and a United Nations Ambassador.
PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata.
After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata.
In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer.
Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream.
So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.