As athletes around the world step up their preparations for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, a team of refugee athletes are leaving nothing to chance in terms of their preparation.
A group of South Sudanese refugees now living in neighbouring Kenya are keeping their Olympic dreams alive thanks to the support they are receiving from the Tegla Loroupe Foundation’s refugee athletic programme.
Among the refugee athletes are five (three men and two women) of the 10-member Refugee Olympic Team named by the International Olympic Committee last Friday.
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The athletes are training in Ngong, a small hamlet some 30 kilometers south east of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
James Nyang, a 400m athlete who is part of the IOC’s refugee team told the AFP:“It’s a great opportunity for me and it’s a good chance for all the refugees, not me alone because it is very important for us to stand up as refugees. This is a chance to show refugees can also do something”.
The Tegla Loroupe Foundation through its refugee athletic programme is helping the refugee athletes get in shape for the Olympics.
The head of its training camp, Jackson Kemoi said it has not been easy getting the athletes into form.
“There are a lot of challenges … these are people who have not been running so when they came here they were just refugees but now we have counseled them, we had to get some Kenyans to come and assist them and also make sure they encourage them about running,” Kemoi said.
The Rio games will be the first time that a whole group of refugee athletes will compete under the flag of the IOC.
The IOC anthem will be played if any of these athletes wins a medal and they will march behind the Olympic flag at the opening of the games.