Parfait Hakizimana said the sport helped him be « brave » in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as he wants to win a medal at the Games.
As one of the six members of the Refugee Paralympic Team the taekwondo athlete thanked the sport for making it what it is today.
He lived in the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda and fled Burundi after the 2015 elections when violence broke out.
At the age of six, he was shot in the arm by men who attacked his hometown near the capital, Bujumbura; with his mother, who dies the same day.
He spent almost two years in the hospital to recover and lost most of his left arm, and at 11 his father died in a motorcycle accident.
« Sport has particularly helped me to overcome the pain of my childhood, » Hakizimana told the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Today he is a black belt taekwondo athlete and certified trainer and trains 150 refugees in his camp.
« Taekwondo is my life and I like it because it helps me forget the difficult moments of the past.
» Life was very complicated but now I see you get what you want if you are patient.
Michael Houston is a junior reporter at insidethegames.biz. He has participated in several major events, including cycling at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014. He also has experience working for the World Curling Federation and British Athletics.
Denver hosted the 1976 Winter Olympics before Sion in Switzerland, Tempere in Awarded Finland and Vancouver, Canada at the 1970 International Olympic Committee meeting. But in a November 1972 referendum in Colorado, voters refused to fund the event. It is the only time that a city has won the Olympics but has withdrawn. The IOC then offered the games to Whistler in Canada, but they also declined due to a change of government after the elections. Salt Lake City offered to host the Games, but the IOC, still suffering from Denver’s rejection, declined and chose Innsbruck, the host city of 1964, as its replacement.
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Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, described the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 as « the most important of all time ». Mike Rowbottom shares the challenges Tokyo 2020 faces and the legacy it will have to live up to with Paralympic sport taking center stage again.
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