Five South Sudan Refugees to Run in Rio Olympics

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In short
All five athletes currently live and train in Kenya. They were selected from 43 applicants to the Team Refugee Olympic Athletes, the first team of refugees in Olympic history, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Five South Sudanese athletes will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as part of a ten-person team of refugees, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.

They include Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 23, who will compete in the women's 800 meter race, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, 24, in the men's 1500 meter race and Yiech Pur Biel, 21 who will compete in the men's 800 meter event.  The others are Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 21, who will compete in women's 1500 meters, and James Nyang Chiengjiek, 28, for the men's 800 meters.

All five athletes currently live and train in Kenya. They were selected from 43 applicants to the "Team Refugee Olympic Athletes," the first team of refugees in Olympic history, according to the International Olympic Committee.

"I want to be a world champion," athlete Paulo Amotun told UNHCR. "I know I am racing on behalf of refugees. I was one of those refugees there in the camp, and now I have reached somewhere special. I will meet so many people. My people will see me on the television and on Facebook," he said.

Similarly athlete Yiech Pur Biel said he is excited to be part of the team.  "In the refugee camp, we have no facilities - even shoes we don't have. There is no gym. Even the weather does not favour training because from morning up to the evening it is so hot and sunny," Biel, who fled fighting in southern Sudan in 2005 added that whatever the circumstances, he will be focused because of the desire to change South Sudan.

The five athletes will be among the first South Sudanese citizens to compete in an Olympic games. In the 2012 London games, South Sudanese athlete Guor Marial ran the marathon under an Olympic flag because South Sudan had not yet joined the IOC.

In 2015, South Sudan joined the IOC. Sports officials in Juba have said they will send athletes to Rio to compete under the South Sudanese flag.

The refugee team also comprises of two Syrian swimmers, six runners from Ethiopia and two judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who fled violence and persecution in their countries and sought refuge in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Brazil, UNHCR said in a statement.

These refugees have no home, no team, no flag and no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.