M. Karimi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Although the Afghan team will be absent from next week’s Paralympics in Tokyo, one of their swimmers is heading there with high hopes.

M. Karimi, one of six athletes on the Refugee Paralympic Team, caught a flight to the Olympic venue with American Airlines at daybreak on Tuesday.


The Afghan Athlete, M. Karimi

We are now at the outset of our travels. The Afghan athlete, M. Karimi, who now resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, posted a photo of himself and his trainer, Marty Hendrick, along with the comment “Tokyo 2020” on social media.

M. Karimi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

The star swimmer, dresser, driver, and author M. Karimi was born without arms but has learned to do everything with his feet. He is a Facebook user.

When this Kabul-born athlete travels to Tokyo, he won’t be thinking solely about swimming. He is frightened about his loved ones since the Taliban have retaken power in his nation following a 20-year civil war.

Afghanistan has withdrawn from the Paralympic Games after entering two para-athletes in Taekwondo; one of them, Zakia Khudadadi, would have been the first woman to represent Afghanistan in the history of these competitions, but she will not be able to compete due to the current serious political situation in his nation.

The International Paralympic Committee gave the reason for their non-appearance: “all airports are blocked and there is no possibility for them to come to Tokyo.”

It was not apparent if the IPC would be able to make any more arrangements to aid Afghan participation.

M. Karimi will Also Represent Afghanistan for the Time being.

On August 27 he will compete in the 50-meter butterfly, and on August 30 he will compete in the 50-meter backstroke, both of which he thinks will make him the first Paralympic Refugee Team athlete to win a medal.

While competing in Mexico for the 2017 Para Swimming World Championships, he won silver in the S5 category, which is for swimmers with moderately limited coordination, with very restricted movement of the mid-torso and legs, or the absence of limbs. He was the first refugee to win an international medal.

M. Karimi, by then a decorated swimmer who had to learn to use her feet to propel herself because she had no arms, hatched a plan to escape Afghanistan with the help of an elder brother when she was just 16 years old.

He initially made his way to Iran. After that, he set out on a dangerous three-day trek through the mountains to reach Turkey.

M. Karimi Spent the Four Years in Turkey (2013-2016) Bouncing Between four Different Refugee Camps.

Two national championships are among the 15 medals that M. Karimi won during his tenure in Turkey. Unfortunately, he lacked the necessary credentials—a passport—to compete worldwide.

In September 2015, retired U.S. teacher and wrestling coach Mike Ives viewed a video of M. Karimi on Facebook, as reported by www.paralympic.org. To gain the backing of the Afghan government and send a team to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, M. Karimi performed a swimming demonstration.

Ives wrote a lengthy text message to M. Karimi in which he urged him to visit Portland, Oregon, United States, to show his support.

In 2016, Ives assisted M. Karimi with his move to Portland by assisting him in obtaining the necessary papers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Silver in Mexico in 2017 was followed by a sixth-place finish at the 2019 World Championships in London. A short time later, after his father passed away, he went back to Afghanistan for a total of 11 days. With the goal of becoming a Paralympic champion, he relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where he met Marty Hendrick, who offered to help him become a quicker swimmer.

He was selected for the Paralympic Refugee Team, so things turned out okay.

I hope to finish in the top three in Tokyo. I won’t settle with merely competing. According to M. Karimi, who was only this year dubbed a “High Profile Partner” of the UN Refugee Agency, “I hate to lose”.

Final Words

Alia Issa, Ibrahim Al Hussein, Parfait Hakizimana, Abbas Karimi, Shahrad Nassajpour, and Anas Al Khalifa are the six members of the Paralympic Refugee Team. They will compete in athletics, swimming, canoeing, and taekwondo, respectively.

On August 24, at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, they will be the first team to enter the stadium.

Cuban-American architect and Paralympic athlete Ileana Rodriguez will lead the team as their chief of staff when they are in Rio.