Syrian refugees participating in the Olympics – Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2021-06-23 18:06:30 –

When Syrian badminton player Alam Mahmood fled his homeland six years ago, he left everything behind, including his family.

“It was a very difficult decision for my family, for my father and mother, and for me,” Mahmood said.

But he knew it was the only way to pursue his dream of playing badminton at the highest level.

“When I left Syria and went to Holland, I found a safe place. After that, I started my favorite sport.”

His dream will come true in Tokyo this summer.

Mahmood is one of 29 refugee athletes selected to compete in the Olympics under the Olympic flag.

The team includes Iraqi wrestlers, Afghan cyclists and South Sudanese runners.

“It was one of the best moments in my life when they announced my name on the team,” he said.

The first Olympic refugee team to play in Rio de Janeiro five years ago “Solidarity, resilience, and hope“when Record number People are fleeing war and persecution all over the world.

“In fact, on behalf of millions of people, we are very proud to be able to make people feel that they can achieve their goals if they believe in them,” Mahmood said.

Mahmood fled Syria alone as a teenager during the civil war. A conflict that began 10 years ago killed 500,000 people 13 million It has been replaced.

When he arrived in the Netherlands in 2015, Mahmood had a hard time proving himself.

“I’ve been in Syria for about two years and couldn’t practice, so my level went down a bit,” he said.

Due to his refugee status, he was unable to compete internationally for the next three years. But since then he hasn’t wasted his time climbing the world rankings.

“Now I’m in second or third place in the Netherlands, so that seems like a pretty big improvement for me,” Mahmood said.

He’s far from a favorite, but Mahmood is ready to make the most of his time in Tokyo.

“I’m so big for my family and my dad. They know I deserve such an opportunity, and I think I’ll do my best there. I just participate There is none.”

Newsy’s Ben Schamisso first reported this story.

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