Fri, 06 Aug 2021

LONDON, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Italian Niccolo Campriani, who made his mark by winning three gold medals from two Olympic Games, set a new target to help refugee athlete Luna Solomon and Afghan displaced athlete Mahdi Yovari to make their marks at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Earlier this week, Solomon was selected for the IOC refugee Olympic team. She and Yovari, representing Afghanistan, will compete in Tokyo's 10m air rifle event. They achieved the minimum qualifying score for the Olympic Games after training with Campriani for less than two years.

"They can now proudly introduce themselves as Olympians," said Campriani, who founded the project "Make a Mark" to help refugees and forcibly displaced people compete in sport and embrace the Olympic values.

"And for me, all I want to see at Tokyo is a positive attitude and for them both to learn as much as possible from the experience."

Campriani hang up his rifle after taking the golds in men's 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3 positions at the Rio Olympics. After years in the shooting range, he was so mentally exhausted that he even had never used a rifle for the following three years.

However, a trip to Zambia reignited Campriani's passion to go back to the range, but this time he was going to help refugees and displaced people compete in the sport. He also wanted to use his status as an Olympic champion to inspire other athletes, help people and "make the world a better place through sport."

Solomon first arrived in Switzerland in 2015 after she was forced to flee war-torn Eritrea. She was selected by Campriani in 2019 and began her training in shooting with two other peers.

"It is almost impossible to put into words how joining the EOR (the Refugee Olympic Team) feels," said the 27-year-old mother of a one-year-old boy. "To get to this moment has required a lot of hard work and training, but every second has been filled with self-discovery, learning and laughter."

"In sport, I have finally found peace. On the range, there is just me, my thoughts, my hopes and my target. In Tokyo, this will be no different, and I am ready to make my mark, not just for myself, but also for my one-year-old baby boy," said Solomon.

Yovari, 24, is an Afghan national but raised in Iran. He had to leave his family as a teenager seeking asylum in other countries and settled in Nyon, Switzerland four years ago.

"When I left Iran I could not choose my destination. But now, through the Make a Mark project, I have been able to control my path towards my goal, the Olympic Games, where I will proudly represent my native country, Afghanistan. I have dreamt of the Games every day since being selected for this project, and it feels incredible for this dream to have now become my reality," said Yovari.

Make a Mark project relied on crowdfunding and donations from Campriani's sports community, including Beijing Olympic shooting champion Abhinav Bindra from India.

"Make a Mark is striving to inspire the next Olympians and Olympic leaders to make their mark by taking the project forward in other sports, whether summer or winter and providing more opportunities for refugees and displaced people to compete in elite-level sport," said Campriani.

"Make a Mark not only serves to provide an incredible opportunity for refugees and displaced people, but it is a unique and impactful way for Olympians to give back and find meaning after an Olympic career."

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