Karate fighter Wael Shueb continues dreaming

Fhe must first make some space in his small booth for training. For the weights, the mat and the fitness bands. Wael Shueb has a small home in Urberach, which belongs to Rödermark, but he never spent much time there before Corona. He was challenged like never before in his life. Training as a sports and fitness salesperson, giving karate training for children and adults, training yourself like a man possessed for the Olympic perspective. His life in southern Hesse had nothing in common with his previous life in Syria.

Until the corona crisis forced the 32-year-old to slow down. Not only that the business was stopped in the health and martial arts club Lotus Eppertshausen, which for him has become more than just a sporting home. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games also robbed the Syrian of his longstanding fixture.

Has a big goal: Wael Shueb, here 2015 in Rödermark Ober-Roden


In the spring of 2018, he received the news that he had been nominated for the “Refugee Olympic Team” for Tokyo 2020, the refugee team. In his karate discipline, kata, it is not man against man, but an imaginary battle is fought in movements that are as perfectly choreographed as possible. The Japanese martial art is about to have its Olympic premiere in Tokyo. Wael was suddenly a designated Olympian two years ago. His story is an example of what sport can do. What is possible thanks to committed staff who give start-up support and accompany the way. How an apparently lost refugee soul becomes a self-confident man who has learned German very well and has brought himself to an Olympic level as an athlete.

“The postponement of the games also has something positive,” says Wael. “This gives me more time to train, prepare and get even better. On the other hand, the past two years have cost a lot of time and nerves with regard to this summer. ”A time that pushed him physically and mentally to its limits. His daily routine before the onset of the Corona crisis looked like this, he says: in the morning his first training session, then to work in a fitness studio in South Hesse, then in the afternoon giving training to children and adults at Lotus Eppertshausen, in the evening a second session for himself. And before that , in between or after that still learning for exams as part of his training.

Anxious waiting for answers

Wael is happy and grateful for what he can do with himself in this country. And yet he strikes a balancing act that is often painful and sometimes puts his motivation to the test. It is concern and fear for family members and friends in Syria. His sister’s fate particularly upsets him. “It is very difficult for them. Unfortunately, I can hardly do anything for them, ”he says. It is currently dramatic. Wael’s sister, who has already lost her husband in the war, moves with her five children between the ages of 3 and 15 in the Turkish-Syrian border area. Always to where the fighting is not too violent. Wael sometimes has to wait for days for answers from her via cell phone text messages. Rebels as well as the Syrian, Russian and Turkish army are active in the province of Idlib, where three million civilians endure under poor humanitarian conditions. The medical infrastructure is in ruins, so that there is hardly anything to counter the coronavirus.

Wael is also worried about his father – his mother died of cancer years ago – who lives in the Damascus area. There is a strict curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. due to the new type of corona virus. There are days when Wael takes it all very seriously. But then he remembers that his actions and success in Germany raise hopes. For his relatives, but also for other refugees. “I try to give them strength,” he says: “By showing what you can achieve as a refugee.”

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