The 2016 Summer Olympics are already special, but they will be incredibly historical if any of the Refugee Olympic Athletes win gold
Part 1 of our story on the incredible Refugee Olympic team focused on the first five athletes. Three of the five South Sudanese athletes were featured, as well as two inspiring Olympians from Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If any of the Refugee Olympic Athletes win gold in Rio, they will make US gambling news, and go down in history as Olympic legends. All of them have remarkable stories, and will be looking to add another amazing chapter this summer. Here is a look at the last five athletes on the team.
Rami Anis is one of only two refugee athletes from Syria. He grew up in Aleppo and began swimming at the age of 14. War began to devastate his home country in early 2011, forcing him to flee his home later that year.
He landed in Istanbul, a city that would become his home for the next few years. Anis continued to swim, but because he was not a Turkish national, he was barred from competing. In 2015, he made the decision to go to Europe.
Rami Anis first landed on the Greek island of Samos, and eventually made his way to Belgium where he has now been granted political asylum. He trains in the Royal Ghent Swimming Club and is being coached by Carine Verbauwen.
Rose Lokonyen never imagined she would be running in the Olympics. It was only last year that she took part in her first ever running competition. Rose was born in South Sudan but fled the country at 10 years old to avoid the war.
She was sent to a refugee camp in northern Kenya and took up running as a casual way to exercise. Just last year, a teacher encouraged her to take part in a 10km race that the school had put together. “I had not been training. It was the first time for me to run, and I came number two.” She said.
Lokonyen now lived in Nairobi and is training to compete in the 800 meter event. She is hoping that all of her fellow Refugee Olympic Athletes win gold, and is excited about her future as a runner. “I can do running as sport or, now I see, even as a career.”
The last South Sudanese athlete on the Refugee Olympic Team is track and field athlete Anjelina Lohalith. At the age of six, Lohalith fled her small village in South Sudan to escape the violence that was closing in around her. She was forced to leave her parents behind, and have not spoken to them since.
Anjelina was relocated to a refugee camp in northern Kenya and began to run competitively. She quickly stood out as a star athlete by winning a number of races. Eventually, professional scouts took notice of her and a short time later she was chosen to join the Olympic Refugee team.
Lohalith will be competing in the 1,500 meter event in Rio. She plans to continue running regardless of how she performs at the Olympic Games. Her primary motivation? Money to give her family a better life. “If you have money, then your life can change and you will not remain the way you have been.” When asked what she would do with the money she earns, her answer is simple. “Build my father a better house.”
Yolande Mabika is another judoka that fled the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. She was separated from her family at a young age, taken away by helicopter to the nation’s capital of Kinshasa. It was here that she began training in judo.
Mabika began competing around the world in judo tournaments. In 2013, she traveled to Brazil alongside fellow Refugee Athlete Popole Misenga to compete in the 2013 Judo World Championship. At that time Yolande was dealing with horrid abuse from her coach. He would limit her food while abroad and was known to lock her in a cage for losing a tournament. She had enough of it in Brazil, and left her coach for good.
She was eventually given political asylum in Brazil, and is now training under Brazilian judo bronze medalist Flavio Canto. “I will be part of this team and I will win a medal. I am a competitive athlete, and this is an opportunity that can change my life.”
We at GamingZion wrote about the incredible story of Yusra Mardini in a previous article. Check it out here. Mardini is a Syrian swimmer who fled her home in 2015. After a nightmarish experience on a boat ride in the Mediterranean Sea, she made it to Europe and eventually settled in Germany.
Yusra is considered by some to be the best chance that the Refugee Olympic Athletes win gold in Brazil. Although she is young, she has proven to be an incredible swimmer and is now training under renowned coach Sven Spannekrebs.
Each athlete on the Olympic Refugee Team has a story worth writing a book about. They will look to inspire millions of refugees around the world, and hopefully shine some light on one of the biggest issues the world faces today.
What do you think? Can the Refugee Olympic Athletes win gold in Brazil? Who has the best chance? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US to find the best website for betting on the 2016 Olympics!
Part 1 of The Refugee Olympic Athletes Win Gold Medals in the Public’s Heart can be seen here.