Meet Dorian Keletela: Olympic 100m sprint hopeful and IOC Refugee Scholarship holder

Keletela has been training in Portugal and chasing his Olympic dream with the help of the IOC’s Refugee Athlete Scholarship programme. 

3 min By Ken Browne
2021 European Indoor Athletics Championships - Arena Torun, Torun, Poland - March 7, 2021 Athlete Refugee Team's Dorian Keletela REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

Dorian Keletela is an explosive young sprinter who trains in Portugal with the backing of an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship.

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1999, Keletela came to Portugal in 2016 with his aunt after he lost both parents to conflict in Congo.

Now he has his sights set on competing on the athletics track side-by-side with the fastest on the planet, after being selected to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in summer 2021.

Right now he races with Sporting Clube De Portugal in Lisbon, is getting ever closer to a sub-10 second 100m time, and aims to inspire the next generation, as he told the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Instagram:

“I want, after my career, for young people to remember my name as an inspiration.” – Dorian Keletela

He is one of 37 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-Holders in contention to be part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020, which will be announced in June 2021.

Resilience is a way of life for Keletela.

He lost his parents at a young age and had to move in with his aunt who later sought asylum in Portugal with a young Dorian.

Arriving in Portugal at just 17, he spent over a year in refugee centres, and set about learning a new language and adapting to a new way of life.

As is the case for many refugees, sport has always provided a safe space to play, to dream, to escape. He started running at 15 and the track has become his second home. Now he trains for three hours a day, six days a week with one goal on his mind.

He ran a 6.49s second 60m in February 2020, then a 10.46s 100m in August 2020, and expectations are high that he can lower his personal best this outdoor season.

Recently Keletela told the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Facebook that:

"What I want people to know about me is that I am a determined person who never gives up and follows his dreams.

“My motto in life is to move forward with faith, determination, courage, patience and perseverance.”

Included on the shortlist for the Tokyo 2020 IOC Refugee Olympic Team, he is motivated to take that next big step and make the team for Tokyo.

“It’s a great pride for me to work hard to be part of the final list of athletes,” he told the UK’s Sports Gazette.

“Sport is very important in my life because it allows me to be healthy and to value myself as a person,” he continues.

“I feel safe in Portugal because there is freedom and human beings are respected.”

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