Afghan Olympics Sprinter Kimia Yousofi Gears up for Paris, Pledges to Advocate for Afghan Women’s Rights

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Kimia Yousofi, Afghan sprinter and bearer of her nation’s flag at the Tokyo Olympiad, is gearing up for her third Olympics, to be held in Paris. Currently, she is training in Australia, a country that she has called home since 2022. The Olympic Committee of Australia lauded Yousofi’s recent selection to compete in the women’s 100-meter sprint.

Dedicating her participation to the disempowered women of her homeland, Yousofi stated, “To represent the girls of Afghanistan once more is a privilege of the highest order.” She went on to draw attention to the harsh realities faced by many Afghan women on a daily basis—women who have been stripped, not just of basic liberties, but of their hopes and dreams. From the denial of education to the lack of agency in decision-making, she vowed to represent these injustices on the Olympic stage.

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She also expressed her gratitude to those that made her journey possible, stating, “Relocating to Australia and pursuing our dreams has been a collaborative effort, made achievable by those who stood by our side at every step of the way.”

Following the Taliban’s ascension to power, Yousofi was among the many Afghan athletes who moved to Australia, thereby finding sanctuary from the stringent restrictions on women and girls back home. Several other athletes, including key players from women’s cricket and football teams, followed suit.

“A billion-dollar business with political undertones, the Olympics extend beyond mere fun and games; they are avenues for promoting change,” Matt Carroll, AOC’s Chief Executive, said. Carroll further praised Yousofi’s story as inspiring for all women who are deprived of their fundamental rights, including participating freely in sports.

The Afghanistan Olympic Committee President, Yonus Popalzay, announced the addition of three female candidates to their Olympic team. He stated, “Our elation stems from having female representation in the Olympics for the first time.” He also thanked the AOC for their continual support of Yousofi.

John Quinn, Yousofi’s Australian coach, shed light on their journey thus far. He highlighted the language barriers they initially faced and how they utilized a translation app to communicate. This Olympics, he noted, would see Yousofi compete not only for herself but for all Afghan women. According to Quinn, Yousofi’s participation symbolizes hope and illustrates the power of optimism. Her significant improvement in her athletic feats, coupled with her resilience in overcoming personal hurdles such as learning a new language and relocating her family, are testament to Yousofi’s indomitable spirit.