Tegla Loroupe’s Peace Foundation and Swiss Sports Company On support the only Athlete Refugee Team worldwide with five of its athletes represented at the IAAF World Championships in London.
In early August, eyes turned once again to the athletics track as athletes from around the world descended on London to represent their countries at the IAAF Athletics World Championships. Among the group of elite participants were a small team of athletes with no country to represent at all; athletes who have fled the countries they once called home.
The team at On were first introduced to the Refugee Team during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Having heard some of their stories and after watching them compete, they moved on with their lives. For those athletes though, and many others like them, this was just the beginning of building a new life — a life where dreams both on and off the track have a chance of becoming a reality.
“We are all One.”
Together with the Kenya-based Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, On is committed to helping these South Sudanese, Somalian, Congolese and Ethiopian-born athletes achieve their dreams. As part of their on-going support, On has created the team uniform which also features the inscription ‘We are all one’ — not some catchy phrase created by a marketing department, but a wonderful expression that came straight from one of the refugee athletes.
While On is proud to support the team in their athletic journey, they know it is about so much more than running.
While focusing on their goals of becoming world-class runners, the Refugee Team athletes are also focused on building a new life for themselves. Many of them had to flee to Kenya from their home countries in desperate attempts to escape ongoing civil war and the realities of either being killed or forced into becoming child soldiers.
Charity auction at the World Championships in London
After spending time with the athletes in Kenya and in Europe leading up the London events, On hopes to share some of their remarkable stories through a series of films. Every single one is unique and touching. In the process, the films also draw attention to the fact that for these young athletes who have literally lived through and escaped war, the old (and somewhat tiresome) analogy of comparing ‘sport’ to ‘war’ is anything but true. In fact, it’s probably about as far from the truth as it gets. When they step onto the athletics track it’s not a ‘battlefield’ where they ‘crush their rivals’. It’s not about ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’. ‘Enemies’ — anything but.
For them, it’s an opportunity for the world to come together and celebrate the human spirit. To show the world that ‘We are all one’.