Afghan girl, Nigara Shaheen, who has been brought up in Pakistan takes part in Tokyo Olympics 2020 as part of the Refugee Olympic Team.
She was just six months old when she moved to Pakistan from Afghanistan. Belonging to Jalalabad, her family escaped the war in 1993 and walked two days to migrate to Pakistan. She continued her higher education at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. She has made her Olympics debut at the women’s judo event, representing the Refugee Olympic Team.
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Shaheen narrated her challenges while talking to the international media outlet, Al Jazeera, during her training in Doha. She said she faced immense harassment in Afghanistan and Pakistan including countless death threats. Facebook pages were made in her name and her information was posted on these pages. This led to her fearing for her security and life.
However, in Russia, she did not receive the support she was expecting. Shaheen believes that all these struggles made her what she is today.
Sports: A safe haven for Shaheen
Talking about her stay in Pakistan, she said she did not feel integrated into society like other kids. Hence she suffered anxiety and life was rough for her. Sports, however, turned out to be a safe haven for her through which she addressed her mental health and helped her integrate with society.
Shaheen also talked about her inspiration to pursue martial arts. She said that she begin judo while playing Karate. This was after her coach motivated her to join judo since there were not many female judo players. The judo player said that as soon as she stepped onto the mat, she felt she found her passion.
In the end, she added that though she was welcomed in Pakistan and has a deep respect for her country, she said that it was emotional moving back to Afghanistan. Everything was new to her in her home country but she took her time to adjust to the new environment.