Apr 25, 2016

    Syrian amputee swimmer to be torch-bearer


    A SYRIAN amputee swimmer, granted asylum in Greece, will be a torch-bearer for the 2016 Rio Games and will run with the Olympic flame through a refugee camp in Athens on Tuesday.

    Ibrahim al-Hussein crossed the Aegean from Turkey to Greece on a rubber boat in 2014 after having lost part of his leg in a bombing in Syria, the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the United Nations refugee agency said.

    The son of a swimming coach, al-Hussein, and many of his 13 siblings, swam competitively from the age of five. He used a 36m-high suspension bridge in the city of Deir ez-Zor as a diving board until it was destroyed in 2013 during the war.

    "I am carrying the flame for myself but also for Syrians, for refugees everywhere, for Greece, for sport, for my swimming and basketball teams," said al-Hussein who works in an Athens cafe and trains several times a week.

    The Olympic torch was lit in Ancient Olympia in southern Greece on Thursday, starting a six-day relay across the country.