News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 26, 2016: While Americans all across the country and around the world were cheering for their athletes competing and winning the most medals in Rio, lost on many was the fact that several of the members of Team USA were foreign-born immigrants and children on immigrants.
As Donald Trump now turns to the old and overused divide and rule tactic of claiming immigrants are taking away jobs from African-Americans too, immigrant and immigrant-roots athletes were pouring out their heart, sweat and tears in Rio for these United States of America.
In fact, according to the American Immigration Council, a whopping 47 of those competing on Team USA were born outside of the country.
Here are some you should know:
Kerron Clement – who won the 400-m hurdles for the USA on August 18, 2016, was born in Trinidad & Tobago.
Boyd Martin was born in New Zealand but competes in equestrian for the US team. He made it to the finals in Rio.
Kyrie Iriving was born in Australia, plays for the NFL team of the Cleveland Cavaliers and was part of the US basketball team in Rio which won a gold medal.
Bora Gulari, a native of Turkey, came to the US as a child and was part of the US sailing team that finished fourth in Rio.
Michael Smolen was born in, came to the US to study and became an American citizen six months after the 2012 London Olympics went as far as the semi-finals in Rio in the Men’s kayak single’s competition.
Denis Kudla was born in Kiev, Ukraine and is an American professional tennis player who played for the US in Rio but only made it to round one of the men’s singles match-up.
Dagmara Wozniak was born in Poland before moving to the US and becoming a professional fencer. She won a bronze medal in the sport in Rio for Team USA.
U.S. Army Sgt. Hillary Bor was born in Kenya and competes in the Men’s 3000m steeplechase competition for the US. He made it to the finals in Rio, finishing 8th in a time of 8:22.74.
Charles Jock was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia and runs for the US in the Men’s 800-M competition. He only made it to round one of the heats in Rio.
Danell Johan Leyva who is part of the US’ men’s gymnastics squad, was born in Cuba. He won a silver medal for the US in the Men’s parallel bars and Men’s horizontal bar competitions in Rio.
Nick Delpopolo who competes in Judo was born in Montenegro where he spent his first 21 months in a dirt-floor orphanage. He was adopted by American parents and grew up in New Jersey. In Rio, he made it to the quarter finals of the Men’s 73 kg judo competition.
Enkelejda Shehaj was born in Albania and is an Olympic shooter who represented the US in Rio but did not medal.
U.S. Army Specialist Shadrack Kipchirchir was born in Kenya and represented the US in the 10,000-mters men’s finals in Rio where he finished 19th.
U.S. Army Specialist Paul Chelimo was born in Kenya and represented the US in the men’s 5000-m race, taking the silver medal in the finals of the competition.
U.S. Army Specialist Leonard Korir was also born in Kenya and finished 14th for the US in the final of the Men’s 10,000-m competition.
Of course these are just some of the foreign-born athletes. There are many who were born to immigrant parents including Laurie Hernandez, the 16-year-old gymnast who has stolen the hearts of many with her gold-medal performance in Rio. But few bother to tell the story that her parents are Puerto Rican immigrants.
Then there is Ibtihaj Muhammad, the proud Muslim-American US fencer, who was born to African immigrant parents and who despite her defeat to defeated by Cécilia Berder of France in the second round in the Women’s Individual Sabre at Rio, managed to make a strong statement for hijab-wearing Muslim women and Muslim immigrants globally.
Hopefully putting the brief spotlight on these immigrants and children of immigrants will help – even in a small way – to educate those blinded by hate, that immigrants come in all colors and are not criminals – but making significant strides in boosting America and its success – not just locally – but globally.