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Refugee judoka Misenga makes it to Olympic round of 16

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Popole Misenga was the talk of the day at the 80-kilogram judo tournament of the Summer Games Wednesday, as the Congolese member of the Olympic refugee team made it into the round of 16 before meeting his match.

The compact athlete first beat India‘s Avtar Singh by scoring one yuko against his long-limbed opponent in a drawn-out bout.

By the time of his next bout in the round of 16, Misenga was already clearly the crowd favourite.

As the audience chanted "Popole! Popole!," he squared off against South Korean world champion Gwak Gong-han, who ended Misenga‘s Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro with an ippon throw.

Misenga and his compatriot Yolande Bukasa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo sought asylum in Brazil in 2013 when they attended the judo World Championships in Rio.

Bukasa was eliminated already in the round of 32 with an ippon by her Israeli opponent Linda Bolder.

"This is a very happy day in my life. I will never forget it," said Bukasa, who is part of the 10 refugees selected by the International Olympic Committee for the Rio Games to highlight the plight of refugees around the world.

Despite her defeat, Bukasa vowed she would continue competing in judo.

"I am a warrior, not because I am in judo, but because I am a real warrior," she said after her bout.

Bukasa became separated from her parents at a young age in the civil war in her country. She started training judo in a shelter for displaced children.

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