'The whole world is talking about you' - Refugee Team star Aram Mahmoud surprised by sister in emotional Cube interview
Aram was speaking to Eurosport presenter Reshmin Chowdhury in a Cube interview when Sanaa, speaking from their home city of Damascus in Syria, unexpectedly joined the augmented reality studio in Tokyo. The two siblings have been unable to see each other in person for the last six years due to the Syrian civil war but shared an emotional moment as they discussed Aram's experience at the Olympics.
'Amazing feeling and a dream' - Mahmoud on representing Refugee Olympic Team
The two siblings have been unable to see each other in person for the last six years due to the Syrian civil war but shared an emotional moment as they discussed Aram's experience at the Olympics.
"I am surprised, it is a nice surprise," Aram said when Sanaa joined the call, while his sister was beaming with pride at her brother's achievement in making the cut for Team Refugee for the Games.
"We are all so proud of you and your performance, especially as it’s your first participation in the Olympic Games, and playing with the best players in the world," she said.
The whole world is talking about you and you make them see how special you are. I am so happy you have reached your dream and your goals because I know how much you’ve suffered and have challenged your goals.
"You have had patience until you reach it, where you are now. We are so happy and proud. I want to thank everyone who supported Aram and believed in him, he deserves the best.”
An emotional Aram responded: "Thank you, Sanaa, she has all the kind messages, I know you wish all the best for me and I also wish all the best for you. I hope you are able to taste the success with me but I know everywhere you go you will be with me and all the family will be behind me. I’m glad to represent my family in the best way I can and I hope to see you soon Sanaa."
Mahmoud lost his opening game at the Olympics 21-8, 21-14 to highly-rated Indonesian Jonatan Christie and was beaten 21-15, 21-12 by Singapore's Loh Kean Yew.
But he was still revelling in the experience of competing at the Games.
"It was a pleasure for me, it was like a dream for me my whole life to be at the Olympics. It was extra pleasure that I not only represented my country but all the refugees around the world," he said.
"It gave me an amazing feeling. I’m so glad to have this opportunity. It’s very, very nice experience for me. Also, not a dream for me but all the athletes around the world and I’m so glad I’m here now.
Aram Mahmoud badminton syria
Image credit: Getty Images
"I started badminton when I was seven, together with my sister, Sanaa. We were playing gymnastics before but I was not so good at gymnastics. Then we moved to badminton and I played some local tournaments and I was quite good so I said to my father I want to try and play badminton.
"From there I was playing every year, Syrian National Championship and I won a couple. I was 15, the best in Syria with seniors. My level was quite OK in Syria.
"After that, the war, which was not fine for me and it was very difficult to stay there, I had a chance to leave and found Netherlands my second home.
"I brought badminton with me to the Netherlands and I told them I was the best in Syria and [they] liked this fact that someone from Syria knows how to play badminton, they were a bit surprised.
"Luckily I had a lot of good people around me who helped me the five or six years I was there. They were happy for me that I made the Olympics and that I’m here playing the best tournaments in the world. It was a long journey but luckily I made it."