- Title: Iraqi refugee in Greece sets sights on Paralympics
- Date: 17th December 2019
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (DECEMBER 9, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRAQI REFUGEE WISAM SAMI, SAYING: "It is very hard for me to come to Greece, it is not easy, because I am coming in the sea to islands - Samos - in the boat, so I am trying a lot of time to come to Greece. The first moment when I put my legs on the island in Greece in Samos I am looking the camp, it's, I find a lot of refugees in the camp, so I am looking, I say by myself, 'this is the hard way for me', because they give me a tent, a small tent to live, so that difficult for me." VARIOUS OF SAMI IN HIS WHEELCHAIR FENCING WITH HIS COACH SAMI IN HIS WHEELCHAIR AS HE IS FENCING (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRAQI REFUGEE WISAM SAMI, SAYING: "Now I just follow my dream, to do something in the future, so I am try(ing) to (do) more training, because I need to more learn about this game." SAMI AND ANOTHER FENCER TRAINING TOGETHER, LISTENING TO COACH'S INSTRUCTIONS SAMI AS SEEN THROUGH THE FENCING MASK OF HIS OPPONENT AS THEY ARE FENCING SAMI AND ANOTHER PLAYER FENCING DURING TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRAQI REFUGEE WISAM SAMI, SAYING: "My dream now is just to go to Tokyo, and this is the best moment for me, just to go to play." VARIOUS OF SAMI SITTING IN HIS WHEELCHAIR IN HIS FENCING UNIFORM SAMI'S COACH LEONIDAS KOUKOS FENCING BEHIND SAMI WITH OTHER PLAYER (SOUNDBITE) (English) FENCING COACH LEONIDAS KOUKOS, SAYING: "As a player he is very determined. When he is losing a point or when he makes a mistake, you see that he is angry with himself. He wants the best, he wants to be the best." VARIOUS OF SAMI FENCING WITH ANOTHER PLAYER DURING TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) FENCING COACH LEONIDAS KOUKOS, SAYING: "My biggest ambition for him is to be happy, and have a good life in Greece, because he chose to be in Greece as a refugee. I think this is more important than any athletic achievement. If he achieves that through fencing, I will be very happy to have helped him." VARIOUS OF SAMI FENCING DURING TRAINING IN HIS WHEELCHAIR
- Embargoed: 31st December 2019 12:01
- Keywords: Greece Iraq Tokyo camp fencing refugee
- Location: ATHENS AND SAMOS, GREECE
- City: ATHENS AND SAMOS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA003BAD59HJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A 29 year old Iraqi refugee in Greece has made it his dream to reach the Tokyo Paralympics as a wheelchair fencer.
It took Iraqi refugee Wisam Sami five attempts to finally succeed in reaching Greece with thousands of others fleeing war in his homeland.
Four years after a journey that took him from war-torn Mosul to Athens via Turkey, Sami says he hopes to clinch a spot to compete in fencing at Tokyo 2020.
Sami, who was left with a permanent limp in his right leg after a medical mistake at an Iraqi hospital when he was three, has spent the past two years training to be a wheelchair fencer.
"When I play this I feel I can do everything," he told Reuters.
He has competed internationally this year and is now hopeful he could be selected. The Paralympics, as well as the Olympics, have had a refugeesâ€™ team since the Rio Games in 2016.
Sami, who worked as a photographic designer in Mosul, spent six months living in a tent in a refugee camp on the island of Samos before moving to the mainland with support from the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. He said the time in the camp was a difficult one.
A project by Greece's Paralympics Committee for refugees caught Sami's eye in 2017 and since then he has been developing his sabre skills at a gym.
Sami's coach Leonidas Koukos, who is also aide to the head coach of the Greek Paralympic team, said that as a player, Sami was quick and determined.
"My biggest ambition for him is to be happy...if he achieves that through fencing, I will be very happy to have helped him," said Koukos.
Sami competed in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation Wheelchair fencing world cup in Warsaw in July and there are plans for him to compete in Italy and Hungary to give him additional exposure to competitions. The International Paralympic Committee gives wild cards to refugees to compete in a refugee team under the IPC flag.
(Production: Michele Kambas, Deborah Kyvrikosaios, Vassilis Triandafyllou)
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