Less than a month before the 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio De Janeiro, Mondoweiss met with Mary al Atrash, a 22-year-old swimmer from Beit Sahour in the West Bank who will be part of the largest delegation Palestine has ever sent to the Olympics Games.
Al Atrash will compete in the 50 meters freestyle, but her training has been complicated. She does not have an Olympic-size pool to train in, and she also has no training partners. Nearby Jerusalem has better facilities, including several Olympic-sized pools and many swimmers to train with, but due to the Israeli occupation al Atrash is unable to travel to Jerusalem to train.
A new generation of athletes is emerging in Palestine due to the work of sport federations as well as the Palestine Olympic Committee and the significant role played by the new head of the committee Jibril Rajoub. Mary’s coach, Musa Nawawra, hopes that her achievements will inspire a younger generation of athletes in Palestine.
Mary al Atrash is extremely proud to wear the Palestinian colors in Rio and can’t wait to compete in the the Olympic games. She recently left Beit Sahour to train in Algeria before the international competition. It will be her first time training in a real, Olympic-sized pool.