I proudly waive the flag of my beloved country. 10 Rio Refugee Athletes enter this year’s Olympic games dreaming of Gold, Silver, and Bronze, but have no country with whom to celebrate the potential fruits of their labor. Every Olympic games, there are athletes who compete without a country for various reasons. This year, 43 refugees were whittled down to 10 athletes, and for the First Time have joined forces to compete as a unified team. They are the orphans of the Olympiad games, but they belong to us all. The team will compete under the Olympic flag, and if any one of these spectacular athletes wins a medal,

the International Olympic Committee has graciously agreed to loan their theme song for the moment of glory on the awards platform. Read the story of 18-year old swimmer Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 along with over 1 million countrymen in hopes of a life without oppression, daily threat of death from bombings, and mass elimination wrought from biological warfare. Follow Yusra as her Olympic dreams may mean more than winning a medal. It could be the difference between a life of despair and one filled with hope.

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Photo by FollowYourSport.com

Yusra Mardini is one of this year’s Syrian Olympic refugees who entered Europe in 2015 when they boarded an inflatable boat chocked full of their countrymen seeking safety on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. When the boat lost power and was unable to find its way through the murky waters, desperate passengers began to row. But the vastness of the Mediterranean proved a navigational nightmare. They propelled forward, but to where? The boat and all refugees wandered aimlessly through the large body of water without hope or promise of survival. 17-year old Yusra (now 18) with her heart of gold jumped into the Mediterranean, and with the help of her sister and another woman, swam beside the boat for 3 ½ hours guiding it safely to shore. Many refugees recount the moments when prayer was served for dinner, and their personal mermaid Yusra guiding them to a new life, was God’s answer for their faithfulness and belief in basic humanity.

The refugees docked and prepared for lives without tyranny and threat of extinction by a country under siege. Yusra pursued the dream that kept her alive for many of her 18 tender years, and continued to train for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. She will compete in the 100m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle swims. She holds strong emotional ties to the wayward souls aboard that fateful boat last year. After the team’s entry into this year’s games, she told one reporter “I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that after the pain, after the storm, come calm days.” Yusra won her heat in Saturday’s 100m Butterfly, although she ended up 41st overall and didn’t advance. She will compete in the 100m Freestyle heat tomorrow morning. This young lady already has a heart of gold!

Listed below are the refugees and the athletic event in which each will compete.

Athlete Country of Origin Sport Event
James Chiengjiek image1 (2) South Sudan Athletics 400m
Yiech Biel image1 (2) South Sudan Athletics 800m
Paulo Lokoro image1 (2) South Sudan Athletics 1500m
Yonas Kindle image2 (2) Ethiopia Athletics Marathon
Popole Misenga image3 Dem. Rep. of Congo Judo 90kg
Ramis Anis image4 Syria Swimming 100m Butterfly
Yusra Mardini image4 Syria Swimming 100m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle
Rose Lokonyen image1 (2)South Sudan Athletics 800m
Anjelina Lohalith image1 (2) South Sudan Athletics 1500m
Yolande Mabika image3 Dem. Rep. of Congo Judo 70kg


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