The Syrian refugee, who had to swim to save her life when the boat she and other refugees were traveling in to reach Europe malfunctioned, will be swimming in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Yusra Mardini has become a member of the Olympic refugee team. She spoke about the fear she and her sister felt when they realized the over-occupied dinghy they were traveling in was taking in water, as the group of refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Greece.
While she has become one of the most sought-after competitors in the tournament, she does not think she will earn a medal. Nevertheless, she hopes to meet Michael Phelps.
Mardini and her family escaped their home in Damascus, Syria, last year and made their way to the refugee camps in Lebanon and Turkey. They were eventually looking to start a new life in Greece. After the boat they were traveling in broke down, she, her sister and another refugee jumped in the water and pulled the boat for three hours.
“When I was in the water there was fear. You don’t know whether you are going to live or die,” Mardini said.
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As reported by the Daily Mail, she was awarded a scholarship to train for the Olympics. She will represent the International Olympic Committee Refugee Team, which comprises of athletes from other countries affected by the war.
Mardini and her family are settled in Berlin. She said she wants to be able to compete for her country one day. “When I was swimming for my life, I never would have believed I would be where I am now,” she said.
She hopes her story will be an inspiration to others. “Now we are training really hard,” she said. “I think about making my parents proud and everyone who supported me.”
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