The FINANCIAL — Visa Inc.announced on July 20 the full Team Visa roster for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With 60 athletes, it is the most expansive group of Olympic and Paralympic athletes that Visa has supported to date.
Team Visa has grown by 62 percent since the last Olympic Games, with athletes representing a range of 26 sports, from diving and dressage to taekwondo and table tennis.
Since the program began in 2000, Team Visa has aimed to provide athletes with the tools, resources and support they need to reach their highest potential, regardless of origin or background. Hopefuls representing Team Visa at Rio 2016 are selected based on their personal journeys to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletic achievements and community involvement, according to Visa.
This year’s Team Visa includes the 10 competitors on the International Olympic Committee’s first-ever team of Refugee Olympic athletes.
“The refugee Olympic athletes are inspiring the world with their incredible stories of perseverance and bravery, overcoming great odds to get to the top of their respective sports and compete on the world’s stage,” said Chris Curtin, chief marketing innovation and brand officer, Visa, Inc. “These athletes, who will march with the Olympic flag at the Opening Ceremony in Rio, are a powerful addition to the Team Visa family, each embodying Visa’s belief in acceptance for everyone, everywhere.”
The following athletes join Team Visa today:
Anjeline Nadai Lohalith (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Lohalith fled her home during war and joined the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation (“TLPF”) last year, where she now trains. She will compete in the 1500m distance event.
James Nyang Chiengjiek (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Chiengjiek fled to Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2002. More than 10 years later he joined TLPF to train, and will compete in the 400-m distance event.
Paulo Amontun Lokoro (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Lokoro escaped to Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp and now trains at the TLPF in Nairobi. He will compete in the 1500-m distance event.
Popole Misenga (Refugee Olympic Team, Judo): Misenga discovered Judo while living at a center for displaced children in Kishasa (DRC). After the 2013 World Judo Championships, he relocated to Brazil, where he continues to live and train.
Rami Anis (Refugee Olympic Team, Swimming): Anis and his family fled to Belgium to escape civil war and to find a safe harbor for his training. He will compete in the 100-m butterfly.
Rose Nathike Lokonyen (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Lokonyen joined the TLPF and will compete in the 800-m distance event.
Yiech Pur Biehl (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Biel arrived in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2005, and later joined the TLPF. He will compete in the 800-m distance event.
Yolande Bukasa Mabika (Refugee Olympic Team, Judo): Mabika began practicing Judo as a child living in a refugee center in Kinshasa (DRC). After the 2013 World Judo Championships, she relocated to Brazil where she continues to train and live.
Yonas Kinde (Refugee Olympic Team, Athletics): Kinde is a professional marathon and cross country runner. He is training in Luxembourg; he will be running the marathon in Rio.
Earlier in the countdown to Rio, Yusra Mardini (Refugee Olympic Team, Swimming) and Raheleh Asemani (Belgium, Taekwondo) were named to Team Visa. Mardini will compete as a swimmer on the IOC’s team of refugee Olympic athletes after her courageous journey from Syria to Berlin, where she continues to train. Asemani will compete in Taekwondo representing Belgium.
In addition, five competitors from European countries were named to Team Visa today:
Adam Gemili (Great Britain, Athletics): Gemili, the only man of Middle Eastern descent to run the 100-m in under 10 seconds, will be representing Great Britain in his second Olympic Games. He will be competing in the men’s 200-m event.
Adam Peaty (Great Britain, Swimming): Peaty is a 21-year old swimmer who holds the world record for the 100-m breaststroke.
Claudia Fragapane (Great Britain, Gymnastics): Fragapane, who is a four-time Commonwealth gold medalist, will be competing for Great Britain’s Olympic team.
Elinor Barker (Great Britain, Cycling): Barker will be representing Great Britain, competing in Track Cycling in Rio.
Natalia Partyka (Poland, Tables Tennis – Integrated Event): Partyka, who was born without a right hand and forearm, will compete in Table Tennis. Partyka has won gold three times at the Paralympic Games.
Team Visa athletes are at the heart of Visa’s global Olympic Games sponsorship activation, this year more than ever. Some examples include: Ibtihaj Muhammad (USA, Fencing), the first Muslim American woman to compete at the Olympics in a hijab, who unveiled the Visa payment ring to the world; Terezinha Guilhermina, (Brazil, Paralympic Athletics), the world’s fastest blind woman, who along with Mabika and Misenga, was onsite to open the Rio 2016 Copacabana Megastore in Brazil to make the ceremonial first payment; and Ashton Eaton (USA – Decathlon) and English Gardner (USA – 100m), who participated in Visa’s first Team Visa Facebook Live Stream last week.
The centerpiece film of Visa’s global Olympic Games ad campaign also features a diverse roster of more than 20 members of Team Visa, following them on a fun and light-hearted “Carpool” to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, leveraging payment innovations like Visa Checkout, Samsung Pay and chip cards along the way.