Something has changed in M. Karimi recently. The former Afghan immigrant raced with the American flag on his swim cap and a broad grin on his face as he won gold in the mixed 4x50m medley relay 20pts at the Madeira 2022 World Para Swimming Championships last week.
M. Karimi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Former member of the Refugee Paralympic Team M. Karimi is well aware that he is fortunate. Over a hundred million individuals, with tales similar to his, are currently living without documents in harsh situations as the worldwide community recognises World Refugee Day on Monday, June 20.
When it comes to refugees, individuals with disabilities, World Refugee Day is a really significant day. According to M. Karimi, who was a refugee for over a decade, “we’re all equal as human beings, and every country should open their arms for refugees and displaced persons because they are human too.”
To quote Nelson Mandela: “Every refugee should have a home, and all the doors should be open to welcome them.”
M. Karimi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, with no arms. After being bullied as a child, he turned to kickboxing at the age of 12 as a means of self-defense.
But the ocean was where he felt most at peace. At the tender age of thirteen, M. Karimi took to the water for the first time in a 25-meter pool that his brother had constructed next to their house, and he was instantly hooked.
M. Karimi, at the age of 16, took the tough decision to leave his family and quit the nation as bombs continued to burst in Kabul while he trained. His objective was to locate a secure location and train hard to achieve athletic greatness.
During his time as a refugee, M. Karimi walked over the snowy Zagros Mountains and into the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he was hidden in the cargo hold of a truck bound for Turkey. M. Karimi made it into a refugee camp over the border, where she nearly died from the plastic and the crowds.
A refugee in Turkey for four years, he managed to train whenever he could.
As a refugee in Turkey, M. Karimi participated and won multiple medals at the national championships, but he was not allowed to compete abroad due to a lack of documentation.
With the assistance of his former wrestling coach, Mike Ives, M. Karimi was able to relocate to the United States in 2016, and a year later, he made history by becoming the first refugee athlete to win a medal at the World Para Swimming Championships, taking silver in the men’s 50-meter butterfly S5 event in Mexico City.
M. Karimi competed in a number of events before finally representing the United States of America in a world championship in 2022.
I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for athletics; it saved my life and kept me optimistic. “Sport is the reason I’m here,” M. Karimi remarked after finishing a race at the World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal.
I am absolutely ecstatic to have qualified for the World Championships for the third time in my career. For me, athletics is everything; for a refugee, it might mean the difference between life and death.
Aid For Those Seeking Asylum
That was the message M. Karimi gave as he became an instant celebrity as a member of the six-person Refugee Paralympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, only days after the Taliban captured Kabul and brought about the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
It was a privilege to compete on the Refugee Paralympic Team and to stand in for the millions of people who are displaced around the world. A member of his team’s flag-bearing duo, M. Karimi remarked, “I tried my best to offer them hope” during the Opening Ceremony.
Furthermore, M. Karimi has advocated for refugees as a High Profile Supporter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In May of 2021, he was given the job he now has.