Ibrahim al-Hussein, a 27 year old refugee from Syria, talks with his trainer during a break of his training session in the former 2004 Olympic sport complex in Athens. ; Ibrahim al-Hussein will carry the Olympic Flame in Athens as part of the torch relay for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The symbolic gesture is meant to show solidarity with the world?s refugees at a time when millions are fleeing war and persecution worldwide and an it?s an immense privilege for the a 27 year old refugee from Syria who once dreamed of competing in the Olympics and whose athletic career was interrupted by the war and an injury that cost him part of his right leg after a bombing in his home town of Deir ez-Zor.
"It is an honor," Ibrahim says of bearing the Olympic flame. "Imagine achieving one of your biggest dreams. Imagine that your dream of more than 20 years is becoming a reality."
Ibrahim commits himself to a rigorous training schedule. Three days per week, He swims with ALMA, a Greek nonprofit organization for athletes with disabilities. His training is held in the former 2004 Olympic sport complex in Athens. He is also part of a wheelchair basketball league that meets five times per week and travels throughout the country for games.
Ibrahim does all this despite working a 10-hour overnight shift at a cafe in Anthoupoli, an Athens suburb 30 minutes by train from his home.
"It's not just a game for me," Ibrahim says of his commitment to athletics. "It's my life."
Greece. Syrian refugee carries the Olympic flame in Athens