Muna's Journey from Doubt to Determination
Country of Origin
Country of Asylum
Olympic Championship Picture

From fleeing war-torn Syria to representing forcibly displaced people in the 2020 Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo, Muna's story is one of determination and unbeatable spirit.

Muna Dahouk began her judo training in Damascus at age 6 with her sister, thanks to her dad, who was a judo instructor. Due to the war, her judo career was short-lived as sports and all other expressions of freedom halted. In 2019, she fled Syria and joined her mother in the Netherlands. At first, the idea of returning to judo after a decade-long hiatus seemed daunting to Muna Dahouk. As she settled into life in the Den Bosch in 2019, judo wasn’t anywhere close to the top of her priority list.
“When I first came to the Netherlands, I wasn't thinking about judo”, Muna recalls. She was scared to compete at the highest level and knew the competition would be fierce. It is only natural in situations like this to think: Will I be good enough? Can I handle the training? She knew she wasn't at her fittest, but she had something else - a deep love for her sport and a love for the freedom it gives her. As a refugee, she appreciates that freedom more than most."I was scared, but I told myself ‘Let's go, let's try’,” as she stepped onto the mat. Despite her apprehensions, she faced the challenge head-on.
  • Olympics Judo
    Muna Dahouk walking to the mat at the World Judo Championships
  • Olympics Judo
    Muna fighting in the European Championship
When we talk about what it meant to her to be part of the 2020 Olympic Refugee Team in Tokyo, she explains the strong sense of shared community. "We have the same problem. We left our countries because of the wars. We share this pain, and we fight. We fight to get better, to reach our goals”. Even though Muna and her fellow refugee Olympians didn't win a place on the podium back in 2020, competing on the biggest stage in the world gave Muna and her teammates a voice.
To Muna, sport means freedom. "In all sports, you can find freedom," she reflects. "Sport means doing what you want. It represents your dreams and goals". This attitude has remained unbroken despite every knock, fall, and slip as she prepares for her biggest challenge yet: making the Refugee Olympic Team for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Judo is a way for Muna to share her story with the world, and to inspire other young people forced to flee their countries and trying to pick up the pieces.
Olympics Judo


"Hello, I'm Muna Ahmed Dahouk and I'm a refugee Olympic athlete. I would like to reach a message to the refugees around the world. I know that the life is tiring and hard and sometimes going to be so complicated. But it is okay. When you wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and think about this. You have to fight and run to achieve your cause and your dreams. I'm so sorry. But I need to tell you this, if you want your life to get better, you must suffer, because you know, nothing comes easy. So keep fighting. Don't give up. Because one day you will get what you fought for it. Don't forget this."

Muna Dahouk

Olympic judoka

Refugee Olympic Team judoka Muna Dahouk shows us what true grit looks like, and sets a shining example for any of us facing our own challenges. Just remember; “Even when we don't get a result, we keep fighting," she asserts. "Athletes don't stop. The fight that the refugee Olympic team has is amazing. They will never give up. And if you don’t win today, you can win tomorrow.”
Muna’s journey has not been an easy one, but grit, perseverance and a joyful love of her sport led her to not just survive, but to become an Olympian and an inspiration for anyone who is lucky enough to meet her. Muna shows us what great things can happen when you dare to dream.

Muna will join our panel after the "We Dare to Dream" film screening that we are organising on 7 March 2024 at the Cinema Het Ketelhuis. Tickets are sold out, we're sorry for that. We've opened a waitlist - please email Julia at and we will inform you as soon as any spots are available.


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