The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are under way with hundreds of countries represented. Some of those countries come to compete with a mere handful of athletes. One such country is Palestine, where only five athletes will represent the nation. Seventeen-year-old Dania Nour, born and raised in Beit Jala (Bethlehem), is the only female swimmer on Team Palestine at the olympics. Nour and weightlifter Mohammad Hamadail were flag bearers for Team Palestine at the opening ceremony in Tokyo.
She says this moment gave her “determination and motivation to succeed despite the difficulties.”
Nour began swimming when she was six, but only developed a liking for it by the time she was eleven. Her closest swimming pool is in Jerusalem. For morning training, she wakes up at 4:30 AM and has to make that rough journey through all the Israeli checkpoints. Once at the gym she trains for a few hours before she drives back through the checkpoints in time for school – and does this before and after school each day.
While Nour speaks openly about her struggles as a Palestinian girl, she also understands that it is important to stay positive in order to pursue her dream of being a great swimmer. One of her first accomplishments was winning one bronze and two silver medals at a championship in Qatar.
After qualifying to swim in the 50m freestyle heats in Tokyo this summer, Nour traveled to Germany for a month to prepare in a 50m Olympic pool – something that does not exist in Palestine.
Her personal best is 30.46 seconds, but hopes to improve this in time for her heat at the games in order to make it to the semi-finals.
Whether she progresses in the Olympics or not, Dania is a proud member of Team Palestine. It is clear that this is only the start for her international swimming career.
We wish Dania and all of Team Palestine the best in Tokyo!