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From representing your country to Olympic refugee: Syrian Wessam Salamana’s fight doesn’t end at the ring

Wessam Salamana is a Syrian-born Olympian boxer, currently training in Germany through the support of the IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship.

Salamana has already competed in the Olympics in 2012, representing Syria in the London Olympic Games. However, after Syria plunged into a violent and bloody civil war, Salamana fled his country in 2015. He is now continuing his career with the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, which was created in 2015 to send a message of hope to the millions of refugees around the world.


Nine years after his Olympic debut in 2012, Salamana is preparing to return to the Games this summer. Under the guidance of experienced coach Heiko Staack, he is training in the city of Voelklingen, while participating in tournaments on the European level and beyond. 


Fighting inside the ring and out


Outside the ring, Salamana has had to face a very different fight. Coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, Salamana has not only had to endure the difficulties of a training in lockdown, but also has had to help his family become accustomed to living in a new country with a new culture. He has also had to learn a new language, all while attempting to qualify for the Olympics at the same time. Through it all, he had to rely on his positive attitude and strong mental fortitude. 


His message to the world: “ Continue training, do not give up, the Olympic dream is coming.”

See also

Laila Ajjawi: a street artist serving women and refugees in Jordan

Published on 1 July 2021