Luna Solomon: The refugee shooter taking aim at change for Tokyo 2020

When Eritrean refugee Luna Solomon fled to Switzerland in search of a safer life, she had never heard of the sport that would change her life for ever.

By Chloe Merrell

No one knows better than Luna Solomon the transformative power of sport.

When she arrived in Switzerland in 2015 after fleeing her native Eritrea, Solomon had never heard of sport shooting before.

In fact, she didn’t even seek the sport out.

The 27-year-old was guided towards the discipline by Niccolo Campriani, a three-time gold medal winning Olympic shooter.

Having retired from competition after Rio 2016, the Italian went looking for a new purpose. He decided to find refugees residing in his hometown of Lausanne and train them to achieve the Minimum Qualifying score (MQS) in 10m air rifle, making them eligible to compete at Tokyo 2020.

‘Taking Refuge’ is an Olympic Channel Original Series following his ambition and the lives of the refugees who are touched by his help.

Solomon was one of the refugees selected by Campriani and taken under his wing.

Now, with his guidance and support from the IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship scheme the Eritrean refugee will become an Olympian.

Sport: a force for good

“Sometimes in life, you can make a choice and sometimes you can’t,” explained Solomon talking to about the life-altering decision to leave her homeland.

“Even though we would like to stay in our homeland with our parents, the situation was not safe, so we decided to leave our country.”

“I was a woman filled with great disappointment and sadness.”

Once Solomon began working with the air rifle, training some four days a week to master the craft, she noticed a profound positive change within herself. She discovered that she was transformed:

“But when I got into shooting… I started to look people in the face. I never did that before. I used to look down because I was a refugee.”

“Now thanks to sport, Luna is a person like everyone else. She doesn’t have any small things – things different to other people.”

Solomon smiles before adding, “It has given me self-confidence. Yes, especially self-confidence.”

“I’m not surprised to see Luna doing better and better. Finding a balance in her life translated into good results.” – Niccolo Campriani

Tokyo 2020 - a platform for change

Solomon’s path in life and sense of self are two things already altered for the better with thanks to sport and the community of support that comes with it.

All that’s left now for the sport shooter is to the change the hearts and minds of those watching the refugees compete at the Games:

“I think the Refugee Olympic Team will improve the image of refugees,” Solomon says with a sense of certainty.

“A refugee does not come to a country just to take advantage of something. This person did not choose a country just to benefit from it, but to look for freedom and security as well as discovering their future.”

Determined to do play her role in re-shaping opinion, the sharp shooter is clear on her vision for the Games.

“My goal for Tokyo is to perform well and do good things for refugees and for immigrants like me.”

Solomon had to take time out from training last year to give birth.

With her young son cheering her on from Switzerland, she will be demonstrating the power of sport and its capacity to transform people's lives.