A surprisingly positive outcome for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics

The 2016 Summer Olympics is one that the world will remember because it is the first time that any refugee team has entered the Olympic Games to represent 65-million people who are forcibly displaced around the world. Also, during this year’s summer Olympics, two runners, Abbey D’Agostina and Nikki Hamblin, showed outstanding sportsmanship when they fell during the 5000 meter race and helped each other to the finish line. The 2016 Olympic Games are a “symbol of hope” to fellow refugees and represent a “spirit of sportsmanship” that was demonstrated by the two runners.

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Photo by NBC

The 2016 Refugee Team did not have “a team, a flag or a national anthem.” The team consisted of 10 athletes. Yusra Mardini is from Syria and Rami Anis is from the Democratic Republic of Congo competed in swimming. Popole Misenga is from Ethiopia and competed in Judo. Yonas Kinde is from Turkey and competed in track and field. Yolande Bukasa Mabika, from South Sudan, was part of the judo competition. Yiech Pur Biel  and Paulo Amotun Lokoro  from South Sudan, James Chiengjiek and Anjelina Nadai Lohalith from Kenya, and Rose Nathike Lokonyen from Syria all competed in track and field. They were driven out of their countries because of violence. They want to be “symbols of hope” to other refugees and bring attention to the global refugee crisis in order to  “send a worldwide message of hope and persistence.”

Some of the athletes have been through unimaginable tragedies during their travels. Yusra Mardini, and eighteen other refugees escaping from the Turkish coast, were stopped when their boat motor failed. She and her sister jumped into the ice cold water and swam for hours while dragging the boat and the passengers to safety. James Nyang Chiengjiek fled from South Sudan when he was thirteen to avoid being kidnapped and forced to become a soldier. He had traveled thousands of miles before he ended up in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, where his running talent was first recognized. Yiech Pur Biel was a teenager when he fled Sudan’s bloody civil war. All of these athletes have shown courage and strength to get to the Olympic Games. The athletes showed Olympic spirit getting to the Olympics, but there was also Olympic spirit being demonstrated during the Olympics.

Two distance runners, Abbey D’ Agostino of the U.S. and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand, who did not know each other prior to the games, performed incredible acts of kindness at the games. During the women’s 5,000-meter run, Abbey D’Agostino showed good sportsmanship to Nikki Hamblin. While running, D’ Agostino fell and also knocked down Hamblin. D’Agostino got up and helped Hamblin to her feet to finish the race. She gave Hamblin words of encouragement to keep her going to finish the race. “This is the Olympic Games” and “we have to finish this” were phrases of encouragement used by D’Agostino. D’Agostino finished right behind Hamblin with a knee injury she sustained during the fall. Even though the runners did not place during this competition, they were advanced to the next final due to their outstanding sportsmanship to each other. Hamblin later told reporters that she is very grateful to D’Agostino for helping her. Hamblin also stated “that girl is the Olympic spirit right there.”

The refugee team and the two female runners are examples of all-around great athletes, not just because of  their strength, but because of their positive attitudes that show leadership and persistence.

By Cheyenne Futch

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