They returned to a heroes’ welcome on the camp Monday, with one signal studying: “You’re gold medal winners in our eyes.” It adopted an equally rapturous reception at Nairobi airport.
The UN refugee company, the UNHCR, stated the athletes will keep amongst household buddies within the camp for every week earlier than returning to their coaching camp within the Nairobi suburbs.
The camp holds greater than one hundred eighty,000 individuals, refugees who’ve fled preventing in locations like South Sudan — individuals like Yiech Pur Biel, a 21-yr-previous refugee who ran within the 800 meters at Rio. He informed CNN: “We have been celebrating, strolling across the camp, they have been dancing.
“They have been appreciating us as a result of they did not anticipate this one would occur in our lives. They inform us now ‘we all know we will do one thing in our lives and we could be position fashions in our lives.”‘
Sport seems to be one of many few issues that provides hope to these dwelling within the harsh circumstances of a refugee camp, one thing famous by the Worldwide Olympic Committee. The IOC created a £2 million coaching fund to assist take refugee athletes to Rio — the primary to seem at an Olympic Video games.
The ten-robust staff that competed underneath the Olympic flag at Rio definitely touched the hearts of many the world over.
An enormous mural devoted to the stateless refugee group — initially from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Syria — appeared on the streets of Rio.
And who might overlook the smile of 18-yr-previous Yusra Mardini after profitable her one hundred-meter butterfly warmth? She swam for Syria within the brief-course world championships in 2012 however was pressured to swim for her life whereas making an attempt to flee the battle there. Her boat capsized off the Greek coast.
5 of her staff mates grew up in Kakuma earlier than becoming a member of a monitor and subject challenge arrange by former Kenyan Olympic marathon runner Tegla Loroupe.
Yiech Pur Biel was chosen by Loroupe’s basis, and, regardless of having no footwear on the camp, nonetheless managed to coach to be a runner on the worldwide stage.
The athletes have been greeted at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport by pals, household and a troupe of drummers from Burundi, and it is the place Biel informed of his pleasure at mixing with the world’s greatest athletes.
“However we’ve got additionally proven the world refugees doing one thing excellent, so that folks know refugees for who we’re,” he stated.
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who ran within the 1,500 meters, fled South Sudan greater than 15 years in the past and has not seen her household since, the UNHCR studies.
However she stated the Rio expertise has made her understand that she will obtain any goal.
“Assembly individuals from all over the world was the perfect factor about Rio for me. Now I’m targeted solely on discovering a strategy to see my household once more,” she stated on the web site.
Forward of the video games, 800-meter runner Rose Nathike Lokonyen advised of her flight from the brutal civil conflict in South Sudan, first on foot after which squashed behind a truck. She made it out alive, grew up in Kakuma after which joined the coaching camp.
“Life was a lot onerous in comparison with coaching on this place. The life in Kakuma camp was so exhausting,” she stated.
The UNHCR says the athletes will now return to the coaching camp in a city north of the Kenyan capital Nairobi and all needed to proceed competing.
In an interview with the UNHCR, Yiech Pur Biel speaks of his hopes for the longer term and of his love of operating. “I can proceed to realize or depart a legacy, to go away a legacy for different individuals,” he stated.
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith added: “I’ll proceed with sport and at the very least I’ve to make my future shiny once I work exhausting as a result of proper now I’m wanting ahead to help my household and my siblings.
The African athletes will proceed to coach on the Tegla Loroupe camp and, in response to the UNHCR, put together for attainable participation within the World Championships in 2017.
Marco Lembo, the UNHCR exterior relations officer in Kenya, who’s engaged on making the athlete program everlasting, informed CNN: “We consider that is just the start of an extended course of which can permit for refugee athletes to take part within the Olympics.
“They characterize greater than 60 million individuals. It is the symbolism of this that’s so essential. We hope to increase this program to work with extra refugees and in additional disciplines. We have to guarantee long run sustainability.”
Ollie Williams, David McKenzie, Briana Duggan and Fasbien Muhire contributed to this report
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