'It was like a dream': Refugee cyclists reflect on world championships

The UCI Cycling World Championships featured a refugee team for the first time in the event's history.

Thousands of cyclists from more than 120 countries donned their national colours for the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.

But as well as making history as the world’s biggest cycling event, it was also the first time a dedicated refugee cycling team had taken part.

Refugee athletes competed in plain white having fled their countries due to war or persecution.

It also meant Amir Arslan Ansari, who fled Afghanistan when he was 16, could finally take part in his first world championships after years of training in his adopted homeland of Sweden.

Amir Arslan Ansari.STV News

“It was like a dream”, he told STV News. “They started to count down, five, four, three, two, and I just pushed and led the team for 200 or 300 metres of the race and then I realised ‘no this is real, it’s not a dream’.”

Ahmad Badreddin Wais, originally from Syria, previously competed for the refugee cycling team at the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

He said: “It’s been great to be here and also it’s been crazy to be in the biggest event in the world in cycling. I will write about it all my life.

“This is such a nice opportunity to represent refugees in this way in the sport. I think sport connects a lot and helps refugees and this is a great thing you can do.”

Ahmad Badreddin Wais.STV News

The refugee team was created with the support of the UCI and its world cycling centre, which hopes to continue funding for future championships.

Director Jacques Landry, said: “When you think about their backgrounds, what they’ve been through just to get out of the country, and now being able to continue to ride their bikes, it is heart-warming and it is inspiring.

“It’s only normal for us to want to promote their cycling through this initiative.

“We want to be able to continue to offer this opportunity for refugees throughout the years for sure.”

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