As the head coach of the U20 World Athletics Athlete Refugee Team (ART) 2007 world 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei measures her success these days on school exam results and personal best running times by the athletes she trains.... Read more
The World Athletics Athlete Refugee Team (ART), composed of athletes who have fled violence, conflict and injustice at home, was founded in 2016 and has since evolved into the world's only year-round full-time refugee team programme.
The team made its first competitive appearance as part of the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, a debut that became a source of inspiration for tens of millions of displaced persons from around the world and whose stories resonated with millions more. Through its Athletics for a Better World Programme, World Athletics decided to continue building upon that foundation by creating a more structured approach to eventually build what in now considered an actual team – albeit one whose athletes are currently spread across half a dozen countries.
Since that debut in Rio, the Athlete Refugee Team has competed at nearly every World Athletics Series event since: the 2017, 2019 and 2022 World Championships, the 2017 World U19 Championships, the 2018 and 2021 World Half Marathon Championships, the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Relays and the 2018 and 2021 World U20 Championships.
The project has grown to include athletes based at several camps in locations around the world including. World Athletics provides financial assistance to fund coaches and to provide competitive opportunities both locally and at World Athletics Series competition. The Athlete Refugee Team project also employs a team manager, currently based at the Alley Runners Club in Tel Aviv, who helps with day-to-day tasks and logistical matters, ensures that there is regular communication between the various camps and is in daily contact with World Athletics.
World Athletics is also providing competitive opportunities at one-day meets and continental championships where our Area federations have opened opportunities to compete. In 2018, the CAA, the African confederation, invited a refugee team of athletes based in Africa to compete at their championships and in 2021 European Athletics opened entry to refugee athletes who live in European countries.
In 2021, seven members of the World Athletics Athlete Refugee Team were selected to represent the Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo, led by marathoner Tachlowini Gabriyesos, a 23-year-old native of Eritrea who clocked 2:10:55 in March to become the first refugee athlete to better an Olympic qualifying standard. Gabriyesos served as a co-flag bearer for the team at the Opening Ceremonies, and later finished 16th on the Games' final day.