Yiech Pur Biel became an Olympian in 2016 — now he works to ensure that other refugees have access to sports in their lives.
“We don’t see refugees as people who can achieve something in life,” he explained. “but they can. It’s only they don’t have [a] chance to practice or to have that challenge to do anything that they can do as a people. If they are going to give them [a] chance, they can do great things.”
The Olympic athlete fled the civil war in Sudan when he was just 10. He was separated from his family and survived on fruits and leaves in the wilderness before making his way to The Kakuma Camp in Kenya.
Though Kakuma had no sports facilities, Biel made a name for himself as a talented soccer player and runner. he went on to represent the refugee Olympic team in the 800 meters at the 2016 summer games in Rio.
“The actual Olympics was great for me as a person, because it was not just only to participate [as an athlete], but we had a message we are going to tell the world that being a refugee you can do something,” he stated.
In 2017, Biel also joined the Olympic Refugee Foundation — a group working with the IOC to build facilities to provide sports opportunities for refugees and displaced people worldwide — a number that currently stands at more than 65 million.