Meet the Olympic Refugee Team: Part 2

By Elise Adams

Ten athletes from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo will go to Rio this summer to compete as the first ever Olympic Refugee Team. All of the athletes fled violence and persecution in their home countries and became refugees in places such as Kenya, Brazil, Germany and Belgium. The athletes, six men and four women, will march under the Olympic flag together this August in Rio de Janeiro. Here are some of their stories.

Anjelina Nada Lohalith
Country of Origin: South Sudan


At just 6 years old, Anjelina Lohalith fled to Kenya in 2002 to escape the war in South Soudan. She has not had any communication with her family since. Lohalith knew she was a fast runner when she started winning races at her school in the refugee camp. She was chosen to be a part of the Olympic Refugee Team when professional coaches spotted her practicing in the camp. Lohalith will be running the 1500 meter in Rio this summer and hopes to win so she can be reunited with her family and help provide a better life for them.

Rose Lokonyen
Country of Origin: South Sudan


Rose Lokonyen was forced to leave South Sudan with her family due to war and violence at 10 years old. They fled to Kenya to the Kakuma refugee camp for safety. She was not aware of her talent for running until last year when a teacher from the refugee camp suggested she run a 10 kilometer race. Even with no preparation, she placed second. Lokonyen was selected to train with the Tegla Loroupe Foundation, where she has been preparing to run the 800 meter race in Rio this summer.

Paulo Lokoro
Country of Origin: South Sudan


Paulo Lokoro grew up herding cattle on his family’s land until the war in South Sudan forced him to leave. Lokoro and his family fled to live with Lokoro’s uncle, but it wasn’t long until war reached his uncle’s village and they were forced to leave again. Lokoro fled to northern Kenya where he found safety at the Kakuma refugee camp. There Lokoro began running at school and excelled in races and competitions. He was chosen to join the Tegla Loroupe foundation, where he received professional training. Lokoro will be running the 1500 meter race in Rio this summer.

Learn more about the Olympic Refugee Team from the United Nations refugee agency and the IOC.


Photos courtesy of the International Olymic Committee.


Published on June 29, 2016


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