Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

First Olympic refugee team will offer message of hope at Rio Games this summer

Refugee team members Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga Credit: International Olympic Committee

They have fled the horrors of war, and now they could hold up the hope of nations at Rio this summer.

Ten members of the first ever international Refugee Olympic Team team have been unveiled today. They will compete in the Brazil Games this summer in a range of disciplines ranging from swimming to judo.

International Olympics Committee's president Thomas Bach said their achievements should throw light on the current migrant crisis - and show how much refugees can contribute to their new home states.

These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem.

We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium.

This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.

These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.

– Thomas Bach

National Olympics committees around the world were asked to identify potential talent for the all-new team, and 43 potential candidates eventually whittled down to three.

The refugees on the team are:

  • Yusra Mardini, 18, of Syria
Yusra Mardini Credit: International Olympic Committee

One of the best-known faces of the refugee team, Yusra Mardini helped tow her sinking boat to safety as her family escaped war. She is now living in Germany and will be competing the 100m freestyle.

  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 23, of South Sudan
Rose Nathike Lokonyen Credit: International Olympic Committee

Rose Nathike Lokonyen was a keen amateur runner before she and her family fled the civil war in South Sudan in 2002. Now based in Kenya, she took up her sport again and will be competing in the 800m in Rio.

  • James Nyang Chiengjiek, 28, of South Sudan
James Nyang Chiengjiek Credit: International Olympic Committee

James Nyang Chiengjiek fled South Sudan over fears he could be forced to join the army and fight. His father, a soldier, had already been killed in the conflict. He began running as a refugee in Kenya and will be competing in the 400m.

  • Rami Anis, 25, of Syria
Rami Anis Credit: International Olympic Committee

Rami Anis was an international swimmer in Syria, but when war broke out he fled the country and is now living in Belgium.He will be taking part in the 100m butterfly race.

  • Yiech Pur Biel, 21, of South Sudan
Yiech Pur Biel Credit: International Olympic Committee

Yiech Pur Biel first came to athletics as a refugee after fleeing war in South Sudan a decade ago. He will be competing in the 800m in Rio.

  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika, 29, of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Yolande Bukasa Mabika Credit: International Olympic Committee

Yolande Bukasa Mabika, a professional Judoka, is from the area worst affected by the former civil war. She sought asylum in Brazil during the World Judo Championships in Rio in 2013 and will be competing in the -70 kg category.

  • Yonas Kinde, 36, of Ethopia
Yonas Kinde Credit: International Olympic Committee

Yonas Kinde has been living as a refugee in Luxembourg since 2013. He is an experienced long-distance runner and will be competing in the marathon after qualifying at the Frankfurt race in 2015.

  • Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 21, of South Sudan
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith Credit: International Olympic Committee

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith was a keen runner at school and took up the sport again after she fled to Kenya. Based on her promising results, she was selected and will be racing in the 1,500 metres in Rio this summer.

  • Popole Misenga, 24, of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Popole Misenga Credit: International Olympic Committee

Popole Misenga escaped war together with his friend and refugee teammate Judoka Yolande at the World Judo Championships in Rio in 2013. He wil lbe competing the in -90 category at Rio.

  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro, 24, of South Sudan
Paulo Amotun Lokoro Credit: International Olympic Committee

Paulo Amotun Lokoro, a former cattle farmer, fled to Kenya in 2006 and took up athletics while in a refugee camp. He will be competing in the 1500m race this summer.