Home Two shooters named in IOC Refugee Olympic Team

    Two shooters named in IOC Refugee Olympic Team

    By indianshooting.com
    Luna Solomon

    Today’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach of the 36-strong IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Paris 2024 Games named two shooting sport competitors – including Tokyo 2020 Olympian Luna Solomon.

    Solomon, who was born in Eritrea in 1996 and fled to Switzerland in 2015, will compete for a second time in the Olympics.

    Her fellow shooting sport athlete in the Refugee team is Edilio Francisco Centeno Nieves, originally from Venezuela and now living in Mexico, who will compete in the men’s 10m air pistol.

    The IOC Refugee team consists of 23 men and 13 women from countries of origin on three continents – Africa, the Americas, and Asia – competing in 12 different sports.

    “We welcome all of you with open arms,” Bach said during the announcement at Olympic House in Lausanne. “You are an enrichment to our Olympic Community, and to our societies.

    “With your participation in the Olympic Games, you will demonstrate the human potential of resilience and excellence. This will send a message of hope to the more than 100 million displaced people around the world.”

    ISSF President Luciano Rossi commented: “The ISSF is proud to be playing such a significant part in the creation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for the Paris Games.

    “The athletes represent not just themselves, and the ISSF, and the IOC, but all refugees across the world.”

    Solomon took up shooting in 2019 through the Make a Mark project founded by Italy’s three-times Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani.

    Speaking in a video for the Olympic Channel’s Taking Refuge series before the Tokyo 2020 Games took place, she explained her decision to leave her native land: “I left because there is no freedom there,” she said.

    “The first time I participated in sport shooting was in Switzerland. Before that, I didn’t know anything about shooting.”

    She was able to make the Refugee Olympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Games despite having to take time out in 2020, when she gave birth to a son.

    Speaking ahead of the Games that were delayed until 2021 because of the COVID pandemic, she added: “I would like to join Nicco to help other immigrants like me…

    “[To] help them be brave through sport, like I was with shooting.”

    Competing in the women’s 10m air rifle, she finished 50th at the Tokyo Olympics.

    At last year’s ISSF World Championships, again accompanied by Campriani, in Baku she finished 139th out of 140 qualifiers.

    Edilio outlined his aspirations and his sense of responsibility as an Olympic competitor, telling ISSF:

    “I believe that a better world cannot be built by indifferent people. I also believe that from the ISSF, from the United Nations Organisation, and from others, they have understood this. And they have become participants.

    “They have made us feel supported by them so that the refugees of the world have their representation through this sports showcase. It is very important for us to represent this cause, to make ourselves visible.

    “Tell the world that we are here, tell all the refugees in the world that through our sport they are represented.

    “And make visible to the world that we refugees are here, that we are millions, inside and outside of sport, on the borders of the world, the borders of Latin America, that we have to work together and do more to help, to contribute to reducing the suffering that millions of refugees in the world are going through.”

    Edilio, who says he is one of nine million fellow countrymen and women who felt obliged to leave Venezuela to look for opportunities in other countries, added:

    “I thank the ISSF for the support it has been giving us, for participating in this dynamic of refugee athletes.

    “Tell them that we are going for more, we want more and that we are going to work hard for it, because dreams – dreams they never die.”

    The vast majority of the athletes were selected from among the refugee athletes supported by the IOC through the Refugee Athletes Scholarship Programme, funded by the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity programme and managed by the Olympic Refuge Foundation.