Saeid Fazloula paddles with pride in Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020

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The refugee paddler, who was forced to flee Iran in 2015, found a second home in Germany, and in Tokyo made it to the quarterfinals in the men's kayak singles 1000m event.

IOC Refugee Olympic team member Saeid Fazloula has finally accomplished his dream of competing at an Olympic Games.

Showing the full force of his canoeing prowess the Iranian refugee paddled to a fourth place finish in the third quarterfinal of the men's kayak single 1000m event at Tokyo 2020.

Although he didn't progress to the semi-finals, the 28-year-old refugee athlete finished eleventh overall out of 15 competitors. Nine of the paddlers above him made it through to the next stage.

Unable to make the Refugee Team in Rio 2016, Fazloula rallied hard with the support of his coach to be included in the roster for Tokyo 2020.

An additional five years of hard work and effort were finally rewarded when Fazloula got the calling saying he had been selected for the Games.

Now the refugee athlete leaves Japan a fully fledged Olympian with his competition successfully over.

Refugee Olympic Team receives standing ovation
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First ever team of refugee athletes receive standing ovation at the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony.

Forced to the 'Balkan route' to find refuge

There was a time when Fazloula enjoyed a successful canoeing career under the Iranian flag.

The canoeist competed in major competitions; his most notable success a silver at the 2014 Asian Games in Korea.

After receiving death threats because of a photo he shared on social media, Fazloula felt he was no longer safe in his home in Iran.

The canoeist made the impossible decision to flee his native country and undergo a treacherous journey through mountains and on the water to eventually find refuge.

Fazloula was able to connect to his new community in Karlsruhe through his sport and through his canoeing and kayaking club, he found a support network that helped him on his journey to embracing his new life.

After years of trying to make an Olympic Games, his dream was finally realised through the IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship Scheme and this his team selection for Tokyo 2020.