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Australian Based Afghan Athlete Kimia Yousofi Selected for Afghanistan Olympic Team

Published Tue 09 Jul 2024

The Australian Olympic Committee and Athletics Australia has congratulated dual Olympian track sprinter Kimia Yousofi, now based in Australia, on her selection in the Afghanistan Olympic Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Kimia, who was Afghanistan’s Flag Bearer at Tokyo 2020, was one of five athletes and administrators plus families, who received safe passage into Australia in 2022.

The AOC and International Olympic Committee worked with a range of parties, including successive Federal Government administrations, to assist the endangered athletes following the Taliban takeover in the home country.

Following her selection, she will now attend her third Olympic Games, competing in the 100 metres.

AOC Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll says Kimia and her family faced many risks and the task of extricating her from Iran where she was based was a challenging time for all.

“First, congratulations to Kimia for her hard work since arriving in Australia, settling into a new country and focusing on so many challenges, including her dream of a third Olympic Games. 

“Her story is one of inspiration for women and girls in Afghanistan and anywhere in the world, who are denied basic rights, including the right to freely practice sport.

“My thanks to Ministers and Shadow Ministers in successive Australian Governments and Oppositions whose bipartisan efforts ensured Kimia, her family and other Afghanistan sport families were evacuated from danger. 

“Kimia’s achievement stands as testament to this joint effort which is still continued today by Federal Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles through his dedicated efforts, supported by Shadow Minister Dan Tehan working to bring family members to safety in Australia. 

Ms Yousofi says she’s thrilled to be selected.

“It's an honour to represent the girls of my homeland once again. Girls and women who have been deprived of basic rights, including education, which is the most important one. 

“I represent the stolen dreams and aspirations of these women. 

“Those who don't have the authority to make decisions as free human beings. They don't even have the permission to enter a park.

“I'm deeply grateful to all those who have stood by me on this journey and made this possible. I extend my sincerest gratitude to the Australian government and the Australian Olympic Committee for giving us the chance to relive and pursue our dreams, and for constant support and help and significant help with my family's visa process. 

“I'm also grateful to the Afghanistan Athletics Federation and the Afghanistan Olympic Committee for their support every step of the way. Special thanks to the International Olympic Committee for its support of the Afghan team, Afghan girls, and Afghan athletes, who have always been by our side and made this great achievement possible. 

“I'm thankful to my family, who have been with me every step of the way, supporting me unconditionally. Thanks to Neil Fergus and his professional team, my coaches, and training partners, and to everyone who has helped and supported me along the way. I'm sincerely grateful to all of you,” she said.

Mr Carroll also praised Athletics Australia for its role in helping Kimia acclimatize to Australian life, learn a new language and find her feet in her sport here in Australia.

President of the Afghanistan Olympic Committee Dr Yonus Popalzay says it’s a proud moment for the Team. The Afghanistan Olympic Committee operates outside the country.

“We are delighted having three female athletes for the first time in an Olympic Games. 

“We highly appreciate AOC for the support extended to Kimia Yousofi. On behalf of Afghanistan NOC please convey our message of gratitude and appreciation to Australian nation and government for support to Afghanistan in a difficult time,” he said.

Ms Yusofi’s coach John Quinn says Kimia has been an inspiration to her training partners.

“On the track she has improved enormously technically since coming here and she has a great squad around her. But when you consider everything else she has had to juggle – training, a new language, getting her family here, all those things, she has been amazing. 

“Her efforts have certainly inspired the other squad members. Now she finds herself on the world stage again in Paris,” he said. 

Mr Quinn will also travel to Paris as the Afghanistan Team’s head coach. 

By Australian Olympic Committee
Posted 9/07/2024