At Ngong hills in Kenya, several refugee athletes are practising for the upcoming August Rio Olympics. They are among the refugee team that will flex its muscle in various competitions for medals and world recognition.
They are members of the first ever Olympic refugee team include athletes from South Sudan, Syria, Congo and Ethiopia who will compete in track and field events plus swimming and judo.
When they met an AFP journalist they couldn’t hide their joy.
“For me I will feel so proud to be there and to be recognised as a South Sudanese because I believe most of the world champions have never been there,” Angelina Ndai, a South Sudanese refugee athlete said.
“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,” said James Nyak, another refugee athlete.
The South Sudanese runners had been staying at the sprawling Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya when they were selected as potential Olympic athletes. They were then taken to a training camp near Nairobi.
The International Olympics Committee President, Thomas Bach, said that the athletes represent a “symbol of hope” for migrants and refugees around the world.
“The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour, the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic stadium and in this way we are convinced that this refugee Olympic team can send a symbol of hope.”