A New Beginning: Refugee Athletes Share Stories Of Their Journeys To Citizenship


LAGOS JUNE 21ST (NEWSRANGERS)-On World Refugee Day, we look at the inspirational stories of three athletes who, having represented the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, have now been granted citizenship in their host countries. Three different journeys that all send the same message of hope and humanity.

“I now represent Great Britain, which makes me feel included”

The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be a poignant occasion for Cyrille Tchatchet II. In 2014, the weightlifter competed for Cameroon in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Great Britain), finishing fifth in the 85kg category. After the Games ended, however, feeling it would be unsafe to return to his home country, he chose to stay and seek asylum in Britain.

In August, eight years on from that life-changing decision, Tchatchet will again step up to the platform in the Commonwealth Games, in the host city of Birmingham (Great Britain), where he once lived in a refugees’ hostel. This time, he will be wearing the colours of England, after being granted British citizenship earlier this year. It has been an extraordinary journey, with many highs and lows.

Links to Cyrille Tchatchet’s VNR, Editorial quotes and copy

“Badminton helped me to integrate with others”

Aram Mahmoud is also celebrating a fresh start in 2022. Like Tchatchet, his team-mate in the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at Tokyo 2020, Mahmoud was granted new citizenship earlier this year, in the Netherlands.

For Mahmoud, who fled Syria’s war-torn capital of Damascus in 2015, badminton, and participating in sport, have played a pivotal role in his integration in his new country. After arriving in the Netherlands, the then-teenager was relocated several times before badminton helped him find a permanent home in Almere.

Links to Aram Mahmoud’s VNR, Editorial quotes and copy

“Sport gave me a family”

Yonas Kinde was one of 10 athletes who competed for the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team in Rio, where he took part in the men’s marathon. At the end of 2020, the runner, who originally hails from Ethiopia, became a citizen of Luxembourg, meaning he was no longer eligible to represent the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo.

It was in Kinde’s native Ethiopia where he first developed a love for the sport, running back and forth to school as a teenager in order to save his bus money. Encouraged by one of his teachers, he began competing in athletics and soon excelled in long-distance events.


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Posted by on Jun 21 2022. Filed under National, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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