Refugee athlete Cyrille Tchatchet soars in Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020

The Cameroonian refugee smashed his Olympic debut to finish tenth overall in the men's 96kg weightlifting competition.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Cyrille Tchatchet II of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team made his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, in 2021 one to remember.

The Cameroonian lifter came second in Group B of the men's 96kg weightlifting competition, to finish tenth overall in the event.

Tchatchet was unable to find success on his entry snatch at 153kg, but stayed true to lift 155kg on his second attempt.

In the clean and jerk it started in a similar fashion for Tchatchet. The refugee athlete missed his opening lift of 190kg, but stuck with it to clear the weight in the second attempt. Then he went one better with his third and final attempt with 195kg.

A combined 350kg weight was enough to see him best the majority of the competitors in his group.

Every lift Tchatchet made was greeted with applause and cheers from fellow competitors, volunteers and team delegations all in the arena. The emotional support kept the refugee athlete's spirits high and his scores even higher.

Cyrille Tchatchet lifting
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

From homeless to British record holder

Tchatchet's Tokyo 2020 achievement heralds a significant moment in the life of the 26-year-old refugee.

In 2014, the weightlifter had considered ending his life.

After competing in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow Tchatchet felt it unsafe to return to his native Cameroon. He fled his camp and within weeks found himself homeless on the streets of Brighton, in England.

Then he made a life-changing call.

Tchatchet rang the Samaritans - a charity that provides mental health support to anyone in emotional distress - it was a decision that changed his life.

Once the lifter was rehoused in Birmingham, he began to focus on addressing his mental health. Tchatchet was prescribed antidepressants and exercise. The burgeoning weightlifting talent needed no further encouragement to begin lifting again.

When the Cameroonian became British champion at 94kg and 96kg, accumulating national records in his wake, the International Olympic Committee offered him a Refugee Athlete Scholarship - all with the hope of getting him to Tokyo 2020.

In addition to training and competing at the Games, Tchatchet also works as a psychiatric nurse in London. A career he wanted to pursue after the help he received during his own personal mental health crisis.