What a journey for Alaa Maso 

The German-based Syrian refugee was fourth in 50m freestyle heat, competing at Tokyo 2020 after his brother represented their homeland in the triathlon.

Alaa Maso realised his Olympic dream at Tokyo 2020 on Friday (30 July).

The German-based Syrian refugee finished fourth in his 50m freestyle heat, clocking a time of 23.30 which was just outside his personal best.

But for the 21-year-old IOC Refugee Olympic Team athlete, making the start was the end of an epic journey.

"Every day when I wake up, the second I'm awake, the first thing I think about is training and how I'm going to push myself. Every day is like qualification day for me." - Alaa Maso

Maso's escape from Aleppo

Alaa Maso and older brother Mohamad were always likely to take up the sport with their father a swimming coach in Aleppo.

As war raged in Syria, he trained in swimming and triathlon and used it as a welcome distraction from the chaos around him.

He also met Yusra Mardini before she embarked on her own journey to Europe which saw her represent the IOC Refugee Olympic Team at Rio 2016.

He said, "Thanks to sports, I was able to detach myself from a lot of negativity and gain faith in my personal life during training; because the harder I trained, the better I got, and that's what I'm trying to build my life on - staying positive, creative and healthy and waiting for the sun to rise above us."

But in October 2015, they fled Syria with their training facilities damaged in the war and before Mohamed would have to undertake compulsory military service.

The pair travelled through several countries to the Netherlands before settling in the German city of Hanover in 2016.

They returned to full-time training after that, but haven't seen their parents since leaving their homeland.

Alaa Maso said, "Swimming has played a big role in my life.

"My time is very full with training sessions, but I'm really thankful for swimming because I really don't know what I would have done without swimming."

Two brothers, one dream

The brothers have taken different paths to the Olympic Games.

Alaa received an IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship and was named for Tokyo on 8 June.

Meanwhile, Mohamad took part in the triathlon for Syria with the pair sharing a warm embrace during the Opening Ceremony.

For both men, this is the realisation of a dream.

And for the younger Maso, aged just 21, this could be just the beginning.

“Sport has always been there for me, and I can never imagine my life without sport.” - Alaa Maso


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