Afghan Olympic sprinter Kimia Yousofi. (Reuters/File photo)
SYDNEY: Olympic sprinter Kimia Yousofi has arrived in Australia to start afresh just over a year after carrying the Afghan flag into the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, competing in the 100-meters.
The Australian Olympic Committee on Wednesday said Yousofi and Asian Games taekwondo medalist Ahmad Abasy, an activist for women’s sports inclusion, were among the members of five Afghan families with ties to the Olympic movement to have recently arrived in Australia.
"It’s been a journey for me but I am very happy to be here,” Yousofi said in a statement. "I am essentially starting a new life here.”
Yousofi, who arrived with her mother and one of her three brothers, is aiming to compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, whether it be for Afghanistan or for the International Olympic Committee’s Refugee Team.
Yousofi was living in Iran when she gained selection for the Afghan team to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she carried the flag in the opening ceremony. She had the same honor in Tokyo last year and is hoping, despite another relocation, to get another chance.
"I am going to be training very hard and it would be exciting to go to Paris,” she said. "I am definitely going to be competing.”
She also thanked the people who helped her family resettle and said she's still seeking visas for two of her brothers.
The group with Olympic links joins more than 100 other Afghan athletes, including women's soccer players and cricketers, who resettled in Australia last year after the Taliban took control amid the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Kabul after 20 years of war.
Abasy, who has competed internationally and coached in Taekwondo, said: "Afghan girls have good talent in sports and have made significant achievements that should not be ignored.
Afghan girls should actively participate in international competitions, and we will witness one of the Afghan girls winning a medal."
Australia's Olympic committee worked with the Department of Home Affairs to secure visas and flights for the Afghan families and with sponsors for their financial support and help with accommodation and employment.