My Refugee Story: Rajab’s powerlifting dream

We meet Iraqi refugee who has found new hope through Para sport in first of our special series from Greece. 30 Aug 2017
a male Para powerlifter sits on his bench

Rajab dreams of competing in Para powerlifting tournaments after being introduced to the sport in Greece

ⒸAgitos Foundation
By Agitos Foundation and IPC

“Before trying Para sports I was always depressed. I used to sit alone and remember the tragedies from the past.”

Rajab is 22-years-old and a refugee. He fled the war in his native Iraq after losing both his legs in a shell attack, and arrived in Greece looking for a brighter future. Thanks to Para sport he has found one.

“Before trying Para sports I was always depressed. I used to sit alone and remember the tragedies from the past,” he said. “Now, the other refugees and me are living our lives through sport.

Rajab’s life changed after getting involved in a special Paralympic education programme for refugees with impairments. Thanks to the work of the Agitos Foundation in partnership with the Hellenic Paralympic Committee, he has tried wheelchair basketball, Para athletics (shot put), wheelchair fencing, cycling and powerlifting.

“I started to feel good and comfortable. Now I want to continue practising and win a title. We all want to participate in different competitions and live the life we could not live during our past years.”

His dream of participating in competition could soon be a reality, with his talent for powerlifting leading to him being trained by Greece’s Paralympic champion Pavlos Mamalos.

Mamalos is thrilled to be helping Rajab. “It is an honour for me to train all these boys and help them become athletes and champions. Powerlifting will make them stronger, more disciplined, experienced and socially worthy.”

The project in Greece began in October 2016 and is funded through the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme. The Foundation, which is the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee, is also working in Cyprus and Serbia with the aim of bringing Para sport to refugees. The project is supported by the United Nations Refugee Agency in Greece (UNHCR).

You can watch Rajab's story here, and more information on the project can be found on the Agitos Foundation website.

Next week will bring you another refugee’s story from Greece.