LONDON – A year after the Refugee Olympic Team made history at Rio 2016, five refugee athletes are representing millions of refugees worldwide, this time at the World Athletics Championships in London.
Two of the five refugee athletes competing in London this month were among the squad who made history in Rio as the first refugee team to compete in the Olympic Games.
Anjelina Lohalith, who was at Rio, ran in her 1,500-metres heat on the opening night of the London games. Her disappointment at not getting through to the next round aside, Anjelina says participation alone will push her to continue.
“I shall not give up no matter what. I want to continue training more and I believe I will be like them [other athletes],” she said, after running in the event.
Some members of the Athlete Refugee Team have been training for three years, while others had just a few months of training. Displaced from their homes at an early age, they have the opportunity of a better future away from conflict zones and refugee camps.
“I compete on behalf of all the refugees around the world.”
Anjelina’s teammate, Ahmed Bashir Farah, who has never competed on the world stage, ran in the 800-metre heats. Despite only joining the team in March, Ahmed managed to keep pace with the other athletes. He did not make it through to the next round, but he hopes it will be the first of many appearances for him in international competitions.
The five athletes live and train alongside other trainee refugee athletes in Kenya, in facilities and residence funded by the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Dominic Lobalu, Rose Lokonyen (who ran in the 800 metres in Rio) and Kadar Omar make up the rest of Athlete Refugee Team and will take to the track in London this week.
While they are focused on advancing through the competition, the athletes also know that they are not just competing for themselves.
“I compete on behalf of all the refugees around the world,” said Anjelina after her race. “So many people behind me, watching me competing, and I give them a lot of hope.”