Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016 – While the ‘Road to Rio’ differs for each individual athlete it is true that some have had a rockier road to these Games than others. No other team symbolises the struggle more than the refugee delegation who are competing under a neutral flag at these Olympic Games.
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Runners Angelina Lohatif and Yiech Pur Biel originally from South Sudan and swimmers Rami Anis and Yusra Mardini from Syria, were four members of the delegation who took to the Copa Courts on Monday to enjoy some beach volleyball on their day off.
Their stories are each unique and inspiring and the members of the delegation have made headlines around the world for all the right reasons. Yusra Mardini for example who won one of her Olympic swimming heats, helped saved the lives of other refugees in an overcrowded dinghy by swimming three hours to reach the island of Lesbos in order to stop it from capsizing.
Volunteer Bruna Barreto, who accompanied them, said the athletes have had an intense few weeks in Rio. "Two of them saw the sea for the first time today and cried. For those who have lived in a country at war, little things of everyday life have tremendous value."
Relaxed and smiling, the refugees were moved by the warm welcome of the people around.
The Copa Courts are open to the public daily during the course of the Olympic Games and have attracted large crowds of people with their legends matches and clinics.