He survived war and escaped to Greece. Now, this Paralympian has eyes on gold

Paralympian fencer Wisam Sami fled Iraq for Greece – now his dream of international competition is tied up in red tape

Sitting in their seats, leaning slightly forward, two dozen spectators attentively wait for the umpire’s voice to come booming over the loudspeaker.


Silence envelops the room at the Helexpo Centre in Athens and the people in it. The opponents hold their breath, their gaze on each other. 


“En garde!” shouts the referee.


Both fencers lift their sabres to form an X. Still as statues, Wisam Sami, a 28-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker, and his Greek opponent wait for the signal. 


“Pret, allez!” shouts the umpire, lifting his arms wide, then dropping them for the match to commence.


In a flurry of movements, Sami swings his sabre arm in a small circle, aiming for his opponent’s chest and shoulders. His challenger reacts, but it is a millisecond too late.


“Touche, point!” yells the referee.

One-nil to Sami. 


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