The Olympic Refugees team continues to win fans over, as Congolese Judoka, Popole Misenga became the first refugee athlete to win a competition in the Olympics, as fellow Congolese refugees living in Rio cheer him on.
“When it was my turn to fight, I felt very pleased. I think that when the fight began, all the refugees in the world were happy in all the camps. People were happy that a part of us represented us in a fight in Rio de Janeiro,” said Popole Misenga.
“We are refugees in Brazil. This is us now. We are here to write a new history, because it is time to be happy. I want to be happy now. I do not want to think about what happened before,” he added.
I think that when the fight began, all the refugees in the world were happy in all the camps.
Misenga won over fans in his clash in the 90-kilogram Judo competition, and became the first refugee athlete to win a competition in the Olympics.
Both Popole Misenga and Yolande Bukasa Mabika from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are now out of the competition after being defeated in the preliminaries.
The 10 members of the first ever refugee team have been big crowd pleasers in Rio since they marched into the opening ceremony to thunderous applause under the Olympic flag.
“I support them. All my brothers and sisters around me supports them. When I say my brothers and sisters I don’t mean just the Congolese but all the refugees. Everybody stands by them,” said one Congolese refugee Mireille Muluile.
“We are very happy. We are on a high. It’s a huge victory for us to be represented like this. To be recognised as human beings, as athletes, like everyone else. We are capable of being athletes, doctors, journalists. It sends a message that a refugee is like anybody else,” said another Congolese refugee in Brazil, Charley Kongo.
The refugees team is composed of athletes from the South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.