To watch the 2016 Olympic Games is to watch magic happen. Day after day, event after event, new records are set, new dreams are realised. Coaches, families, friends and funders cheer from surrounding benches and bleachers as young spirits ignite, turning years of tireless training into seconds that will last a lifetime. Some win, some lose, all are top of their game, whichever part of the Games in which they are participating. Tears fall, the pain of Olympic moments caused by both physical and emotional highs and lows. Through it all, ignited spirits glow strong.

Even those losing out on their goals for gold will forever feel a golden fire within their hearts. They were there when the Opening Ceremonies saw the world’s flags and finest athletes walk the stadium surrounded by a world of applauding admirers sitting right there in the venue, or the tens of millions sitting in their homes and offices watching from across the globe. Their Olympic moment can never be taken from their hearts, their life stories.

For all athletes the road to Rio has been a commitment beyond compare. All else was put on hold – at times it felt as though their lives depended on it. Those around know only to support – be there, supporting in silent strength, unless loud rallying of effort and energy was required to keep them moving forward, looking upward.

Their moment is all that matters. The rest of their lives can wait.

For the average athlete, superhuman in their strength of ability, hardships are assumed to be few. The fundamentals are assumed to be taken care of – a roof over their heads, a meal in their bellies, a team of professionals guiding their every move, a sense of peace that they are safe in their place in the world. Focus can afford to be selfish. There is little reason to fear anything but failure when tomorrow comes.

But for one team competing at the 2016 Olympic Games, fears they faced tomorrow were far beyond athletic performance. The assumptions of home, health, safety, security, and selfishness do not exist.

Home is no longer a place they can go – it no longer exists.

Family? Not 100% sure.

The future? Again, not 100% sure.

Such is the flame, the view of tomorrow, that is held in many of the hearts of the ten athletes that make up this year’s Olympic refugee team – the first ever refugee team in Olympic history. Without a nation state, still they have remarkable abilities, and even more remarkable dreams. And so, together these ten incredible forces of nature, often without nurture, stand tall, together, under the iconic Olympic rings flag.

Their spirit is everywhere, strengthening the Olympic flame for all.

The question is: how can these heroes be found, supported, championed, given a feeling of peace and place with all they need, beyond the Games, beyond these precious ten representing the over 65 million refugees worldwide today?

As these remarkable athletes grace Rio with their courage and commitment to not just sport, but survival of the human spirit. May they be the enduring flame, inextinguishable of the 2016 Games.

Their stories are here –

Please take a moment, read through their journeys to Rio. Open your heart to be able to hear their Olympic dreams, their daily dreams, come to life.

I challenge you not to cry…x




Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2016