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The Refugee Olympic Team – Rio Olympics 2016

Rio Olympics 2016 Almost every other person, all around the world nowadays preach peace and are self proclaimed messengers of peace. But there’s a huge difference between preaching something and actually putting one’s words and thoughts into action.


The Olympic Games since it’s inception have been unceasing in it’s virtue of providing us with tales of guts, grit, determination and perseverance. These are what can easily be called real life inspirations, and have given us reasons to cherish and celebrate the fact in more than one occasion.

Usually, these inspirational stories are related to just a few names taking part in the games, but history kinda got re-written this time around.


History was made as a team of refugee athletes walked behind the Olympic flag for the first time ever.
The loudest cheers on the opening ceremony too, for the record was reserved for this one team – which did not have the flag of any country leading them.

The team comprising of 10 athletes from war torn and much peace disrupted countries, united by one common thing – sports, writes itself in the history books as a story of valour, unity and self belief.

Here’s to looking at these men and women, who have won our hearts a thousand times over.

1. ROSE NATHIKE LOKONYEN

FIELD – ATHLETICS 800m

ROSE NATHIKE LOKONYEN

The flag bearer of the Olympic Refugee Team, this athlete was born from the aftermath of the civil war in South Sudan.
From scrambling around looking for a place to hide, to discovering the bodies of her grandparents under heavy rubble – this is one of those stories which proves just what a person’s determination can lead to.

She made her way into a camp in Kenya next, and started running in school. Later she joined the Tegla Loroupe peace foundation and trained there for the whole of last year.

2. PAULO AMOTUN LOKORO

FIELD – ATHLETICS 1,500m

 PAULO AMOTUN LOKORO

A guy who on paper, is taking part in an Olympic race but in reality has been running all his life – he’s part of yet another family affected by the civil wars in Sudan. He had to escape from place to place, frequently as the war kept gathering steam.

As he said in one of his interviews, there was a time when all that him and his folks ate was fruits. Here to win gold, is his dream per say.

3. POPOLE MISENGA

FIELD – JUDO 90kg

POPOLE MISENGA

Staying away from our loved ones for even a couple of days can be miserable. This 24 year old judoka got separated from his brothers at a very tender age, and hasn’t seen them ever since.

Now settled in Brazil, he definitely has a point to prove – for his people at home who are hopefully watching him.

4. RAMI ANIS

FIELD – SWIMMING

RAMI ANIS

Torn from his family due to the Syrian war, Rami’s family sent him to Istanbul. For what supposed to be a temporary move, it stretched into years.
He wasn’t even allowed to swim competitively as he didn’t have Turkish citizenship.

He eventually crossed the sea into Belgium in an inflatable dinghy and hasn’t looked back since.

5. ANGELINA NADA LOHALITH

FIELD – ATHLETICS 1,500m

ANGELINA NADA LOHALITH

Her story reads somewhat like – sleeping in the bushes to escape the war in Sudan, and waking up one day find her house surrounded by land mines.

Eventually got camped up, but she has not been in any touch with her parents for over a decade, after leaving her home country.

6. JAMES NYANG CHIENGJIEK

FIELD – ATHLETICS 1,500m

JAMES NYANG CHIENGJIEK

Whether it was a life fraught with political chaos in Sudan, or a lack of proper footwear – nothing stopped James from qualifying for the ’16 Rio Olympics.

This is the thing about life, no doubt it’s gonna give you loads and loads of lemons…but keep collecting it until someday you make some lemonade out of it !

7. YIECH PUR BIEL

FIELD – ATHLETICS 800m

biel

Writing Biel’s story, which is also from Sudan makes one wonder how messed up one single country can get.
Biel ran his first competitive race last year and came second.

In the games though he’ll be pitted against Kenya’s Olympic Champion and record holder – David Rudisha.

8. YONAS KINDE

FIELD – ATHLETICS, MARATHON

Refugee Athlete Yonas Kinde

As a teenager in Ethiopia, he had to flee because of threats to his life.

He has won numerous races till date, but none under any national level as he wasn’t eligible for participation. It all changes now.

9. YOLANDE BUKASA MABIKA

FIELD – JUDO, 70kg

YOLANDE BUKASA MABIKA

What at first was taken up as a recreational activity to heal the pain of being separated from her parents has finally landed this Congolese judoka in the Olympic games.

10. YUSRA MARDINI

FIELD – SWIMMING

yusra mardini

18 year old Syrian refugee, Yusra saved the lives of 20 fellow refugees when their boat started to sink while crossing from Turkey and Greece.


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About Author

Siddharth Nandi

Currently a final year student at Bhawanipur Education Society College. I've been the drummer for the bands After We Fell and Stained. I've also been a two time state champion and a black belt in karate. A Delhi Public School passout, the flair for writing came from writing poems and song lyrics.

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