Eight athletes and one guide runner have been named to the largest-ever Refugee Paralympic Team ahead of the 2024 Paris Paralympics. 

The Refugee Paralympic Team (RPT) will showcase eight athletes from six countries who will compete in the following sports: Para athletics, Para powerlifting, Para table tennis, Para taekwondo, Para triathlon, and wheelchair fencing. 

"Unfortunately, the world has more than 120 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Many live in dire conditions," said IPC President, Andrew Parsons. "These athletes have persevered and shown incredible determination to get to Paris 2024 and give every refugee around the world hope. The Refugee Paralympic Team shines a spotlight on the transformational impact of sport."

Paris 2024 Refugee Paralympic Team

Zakia Khudadadi - Para Taekwondo 

Khudadadi made headlines after competing at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics just days after escaping from her home country. She now lives in Paris, France and won the 2023 European Taekwondo Championship in the 47kg category. 

Guillaume Junior Atangana - Para Athletics / Donard Ndim Nyamjua (Guide) 

Atangana finished just shy of winning a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics in the 400m T11. He arrives in Paris after finishing first in the 400m and second in the 100m final at the Nottwil 2024 Grand Prix. Atangana originally wanted to play football but made the switch to athletics when he lost his eyesight. He now lives in the U.K. and will compete in the 100m and 400m T11 events in Paris. 

"I remember very well the early days when we arrived in England. We had to adapt a lot of things to fit in our training – especially with the colder climate, which wasn’t favorable to us. We didn't have a lot of support at first. We didn't know anyone; we were in limbo without our papers. Yet, my guide and I remained focused on our training. We had the big picture in mind, hoping to qualify for Paris 2024 - and the Lord has given us that now." 

Ibrahim Al Hussein - Para Triathlon

Paris 2024 marks Al Hussein's third trip to the Games representing the Refugee Paralympic Team. Al Hussein, who lost his right leg during an explosion while trying to save a friend during the war in his home country, was the flag bearer at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony. He'll make the switch from para swimming to para triathlon in Paris. 

"The hardest moments I have faced in my life are my injury and the war in my country. My journey to Paris has been difficult over the past couple of years in trying to get all the necessary equipment to compete in triathlon which can be expensive."

Salman Abbariki - Para Athletics

Paris 2024 will be Abbariki's second Paralympic Games after competing in shot put at the 2012 London Games. At the 2010 Asian Para Games, Abbariki, who now lives in Germany, won a gold medal and broke the Asian record. 

"I can tell people with disabilities that in no way should disability be a limitation to your progress. You can be an inspiration in the lives of others."

Hadi Darvish - Para Powerlifting 

Darvish was inspired to become an athlete after watching the 2012 London Paralympics on television. His journey was anything but easy - he spent two years in a refugee camp after arriving in Germany with his wife and children and struggled to find a sports club that would allow him to train without having a bank account. However, Darvish refused to give up and was able to prove his potential. The club president agreed that Darvish could pay in cash and allowed him to train, therefore leading Darvish to achieve his biggest goal of becoming a Paralympian.  

"Being on the team has a double meaning for me. On the one hand, I am sorry I do not have the flag of my country in my hand. On the other hand, I am very happy that I have been given this amazing opportunity. I would like to thank all my friends, the refugee team and the International Paralympic Committee."

Sayed Amir Hossein Pour - Para Table Tennis

Pour became interested in table tennis as a school student but never considered taking his talents to a professional level until discovering a sports center for athletes with disabilities in his city. After fleeing to Germany, Pour has lived in numerous refugee camps away from family, but has kept his eyes locked on winning a gold medal in Paris. Pour won two gold medals at the Asian Youth Para Games in 2021. 

"Perhaps it’s not easy for anyone who has never been a refugee to understand, but being forced to flee your country, being away from your family and the enormous challenges you face in a new country are some of the hardest conditions any human can experience."

Amelio Castro Grueso - Wheelchair Fencing 

After the death of his mother at age 16, Grueso faced more adversity when he lost his legs in an accident four years later. With the hope of inspiring others, Grueso originally took up wheelchair basketball before settling on wheelchair fencing. Grueso now lives in Italy and won a bronze medal at the 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championship in Brazil. Although completing paperwork and obtaining refugee status resulted in Grueso not having as much international experience as he would like heading into Paris, he still has hopes of winning a Paralympic medal. 

"When I arrived in Italy, I felt like I was in the dark. It was difficult as a migrant to find a place to train, to eat properly and to have the optimal rest that a high-performance athlete requires. But then I met Daniele Pantoni who from the first day has been by my side helping me train and assisting me with my every need. By obtaining political asylum, I could not compete in international competitions at first but thanks to Refugee Paralympic Team I have been able to participate again in international competitions. Being part of this team is like God has answered my prayer."

Hadi Hassanzada - Para Taekwondo 

After fleeing from his home country and arriving in Austria, Hassanzada met his coach and began taekwondo. He has faced numerous obstacles, including losing his right hand, but has proven that any setback can be turned into an opportunity. 

"Throughout my long journey and the challenges that I’ve faced - moving to another country, my disability, a failed marriage, changing jobs and being away from my family - I have learned to never be disappointed and to try my best to succeed. Life really becomes meaningful when you find a way to overcome challenges and there is always a way to achieve happiness and success."