For now, there will be time to gather and follow the fortunes of their five former neighbors in August. ‘It would be a shame if I drowned’ Like Mardini, Rami Anis is another accomplished swimmer. The 25-year-old Anis had been expected to make Syria’s team for London 2012 in the men’s 100m butterfly event. But in 2011, faced with bombing in his hometown of Aleppo and the prospect of an army call-up, he decided to follow his brother to Turkey. However, four years later, Anis remained barred from competing with his teammates as he was a refugee. With help from smugglers he chanced a terrifying dinghy trip to Greece then made his way to Belgium, where he was finally granted asylum in December last year. “This is a dream for any athlete,” Anis told a press conference ahead of the 2016 Games. “When I was a child I would dream about participating in the Olympics and our dream about participating in the Olympics under my country’s flag. click“However, I am proud that I am participating today even though I am participating as a refugee Olympic athlete. Obviously, I think about my homeland, Syria, and I do hope that by Tokyo 2020 there will be no refugees, nothing is nearer and dearer to my heart than the homeland.” Now he trains at the Royal Ghent Swimming Club under former Belgian star Carine Verbauwen. When Anis was selected, Verbauwen said: “If he stayed in Syria — if there was no war — he would have been in the Olympic Games.
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