World Refugee Day: Fight for Every Point, Aram Tells Dorsa

For a first-time Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) member, who better to speak to than someone who’s been there and done it?

Set to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next month, Dorsa Yavarivafa, one of 36 athletes selected by the International Olympic Committee to be part of ROT, will follow in the footsteps of Aram Mahmoud – the first refugee Olympic shuttler.

Mahmoud and Yavarivafa have been in touch, and the 20-year-old is grateful the Tokyo 2020 Olympian was willing to share his experience.

One of the key things Mahmoud told Yavarivafa was balancing mental health and maintaining motivation were critical aspects of preparing for the Games.

“It’s not easy in this situation because there’s always talk about me,” admits Yavarivafa. “My family and friends keep me busy and away from thinking about the negative stuff that could affect me mentally. That was really good advice from Aram and I thank him for that.”

Mahmoud at Tokyo 2020.

Reflecting on his journey to Tokyo 2020, Mahmoud recalls: “Back then, COVID-19 was the biggest challenge. We couldn’t play tournaments and were very careful not to get infected.”

Despite these setbacks, he came up with a solution by relocating to Denmark from the Netherlands to train at the Centre of Excellence.

“Badminton-wise, it was finding ways to improve. I managed that by getting a better place to practice at,” said Mahmoud. “I had top coaches who helped me a lot and also quality players I could spar with to get the feeling of playing at a high level. Initially, we focused on endurance and getting fit, and after that, we concentrated on technique and tactics.”

Similarly, Dorsa follows a rigorous schedule that emphasises both aspects, as well as physical conditioning.

“My routines are as Aram said, technical and tactical as well, and I also do work in the gym. I’ve been losing weight from these exercises. Agility is another big factor in my training,” she explains.

Yavarivafa greatly appreciates Mahmoud’s guidance.

When it comes to handling the pressure and expectations of competing on a prestigious global stage, Mahmoud’s advice to Yavarivafa is simple: “Have fun and do your all to get ready to represent the Refugee Olympic Team in the best way you can. We know it will be difficult against the best players in the world, but I hope you can do everything to give them a tough match.

“In badminton, anything can happen, so go there and fight for every point. Only then will you be satisfied with yourself when the matches are over.”

Yavarivafa embraces this mindset wholeheartedly.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do. It’s my plan to keep going and giving my best in every rally,” she promised Mahmoud.

Watch: Yavarivafa’s Road To Paris.

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