Barbari Zharfi Mahboubeh is the last representative of the IJF Refugee Team who will be present this summer in Paris on the occasion of the Olympic Games. She shares her feelings about her participation in this global event.
Barbari Zharfi Mahboubeh

"I feel super excited to participate in the Games, this is the first time for me. When I learned about my selection, I cried. I didn’t expect that I would have such a reaction but all of a sudden I felt I achieved everything in my life. I was really emotional.

For me to participate in the Olympic Games represents power. As a single mother and a refugee, I was able to qualify for the Olympics, so if we want to we can achieve anything, no matter what.

What I am stressed about is not wanting to let my team down and not being able to perform well. I want to make them proud.

For the moment, I concentrate on my preparation. I train twice daily in Germany with my coach.

I was born in Iran and that is where I started practising judo, in Bandar Anzali. After a while, I realised that judo had the capacity to give me a goal in my life, while I was struggling to find myself.

With IJF President Marius Vizer

I went through tragic moments in my life and it's still difficult to even talk about it, so now I focus on the present, which is my life in Germany with my daughter. All that matters is training and taking care of her. She is my number one fan and I will do anything for her.

It's not easy, there are some challenges. Personally, it is a question of balancing motherhood and training. Sometimes I struggle to find a caregiver for my daughter while I am away. I think many parent athletes face that. Motherhood should be made easy because we are building the world’s population but unfortunately we don’t get enough support.

I wouldn't be here without my daughter and my family. Although my family is away, they send me positive energy from afar.

All this gives me the will to continue playing judo and prove to the world that mothers can be top athletes as well. I believe that judo gives you a family. Go to any dojo and you will find a family welcoming you.

The refugee team

This summer I will be competing both in the individual and mixed team events.

What I really want people to understand is that if you want, you can. What I want for the moment is to be an athlete, then a coach for children, especially young girls."

Together with her teammates and Muna Dahouk and Nigara Shaheen, and coach Vahid Sarlak

We will follow Barbari Zharfi Mahboubeh carefully this summer and we know that she will have strong support from the community, from her family and from her daughter.

See also