People Are Awesome: Scarf Selling Judo Champ Is Palestine's First Olympian

Maher Abu Rmeileh is the first Palestinian to qualify to compete in the Olympics. Watch for his one arm shoulder throw next month.

Maher Abu Rmeileh can one arm shoulder throw you across the room and then help you accessorize your neckwear. His family runs a scarf stall in the old section of East Jerusalem where he still works, but he trains up to four hours a day in the local YMCA and with grit and determination has become the first Palestinian to qualify to compete in the Olympics. He has trained 20 years for this moment, starting with childhood sparring with his judo-practicing father.


"I will try my best with all the strength I have to go and win something," Abu Rmeileh told AFP. "I am not going for the honour but to win in the name of Palestine. I hope we'll have a free Palestinian state like any other country so we can bring coaches and specialists from abroad to achieve more in sports." As a trailblazer, Rmeileh says he's aware of the expectations of his countrymen. In the video above from our friends at Al-Monitor, you'll see another shopkeeper tell him not to come home without a gold. So, you know, no pressure.

Other Palestinians have participated in the Olympic Games as part of an honorary invitation to developing nations that fail to meet the qualifying standards, but Abu Rmeileh made history by meeting the standards applied to any other Olympic hopeful.

We're looking forward to watching Abu Rmeileh bust out his best "mountain storm" and "scoop throw" next month.

Photo (cc) Flickr user joncandy