Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini will swim for joy in Olympics 2016 after swimming for her life
About a year ago, Yusra Mardini was swimming for her life through the Aegean Sea in a last-ditch attempt to survive a perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece.
Now living in Germany, the 18-year-old Syrian, has qualified for Rio Olympics 2016. “It’s a dream come true, the Olympics is everything, it’s a life chance” Ms. Mardini exclaimed.
Mardini is one of 10 refugees who are competing at Rio as a part of the first-ever “Refugee Olympic Athletes” team under the flag of the International Olympic Committee.
“These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said in a statement announcing the members of the team. “We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the world. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the stadium.”
The Refugee Olympic Team is made up of two swimmers from Syria, two judo fighters from Democratic Republic of Congo, five runners from South Sudan and a marathon runner from Ethiopia.
The courageous Syrian teenager is now part a team of refugees at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, representingmillions of refugees fleeing war and persecution throughout the world.
“I’m going to make them proud,” Yusra said. “I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days. I want to inspire them to do something good in their lives.”
Inspiring story of Yusra Mardini
On 12 August, 2015, four and a half years since the civil war began in Syria, Mardini and her eldest sister, Sarah, left war-torn Syria with their father’s two cousins and other refugees.
Mardini and her sister traveled through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria before reaching Germany. There, the two of them were connected with a local swimming club.
She travelled 1000 miles to a better life. Over 25 days, Yusra and her sister, Sarah, survived the journey starting from Damascus through jungles, mountains, and across the Mediterranean to Greece, before finally making their way to Berlin in Germany.
On arriving in Berlin, a friend introduced Yusra to one of Berlin’s oldest Swimming Clubs. Within four weeks, her coach there, Sven Spannerkrebs, identified her as a prospect for Tokyo Olympics in 2020. But Yusra would not have to wait that long.
In a video released by the International Olympic Committee, the 18-year-old Syrian refugee says it was difficult maintaining her athletic training during Syria’s war. She describes looking up at the roof over a pool and seeing the sky through holes blown by bombs.
In 2012 she represented Syria in the World Swimming Championships, competing in the 200 metre individual medley, 200 metre freestyle and 400 metre freestyle events.
“Rio is a dream for me,” she said. “Hope has carried me to the Olympics, now I will give all I have to win.”
Yusra Mardini’s story is inspiring people all across:
— keepa karmacharya (@keepabear) July 25, 2016
Yusra Mardini is one of the brightest young stars at Rio Olympics 2016.
‘Worst of humanity can bring out best in humanity’. Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini is on her way to Rio. https://t.co/ltgEnhz2VF
— Tom Fletcher (@TFletcher) July 29, 2016
Yusra’s coach describes her as focused, her father – who now lives with Mardini in Berlin, along with the rest of the family – says his daughter is living his dream.
Wonderful quote from Yusra Mardini “Losers quit when they fail. WINNERS fail until they succeed” pic.twitter.com/oZFN22hHog
— Samira Kumar (@Samirak93) July 29, 2016