Yusra Mardini, the face of the Olympics’ first ever team of refugees.

Growing up in Damascus, Syria , Yusra Mardini trained in swimming with the support of the Syrian Olympic Committee. In 2012, she represented Syria in the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m) 200 metre individual medley, 200 metre freestyle and 400 metre freestyle events.

But the story of her life and success is not so easy. Mardini’s house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War and tohether with her sister Sarah she decided to flee Syria in August 2015. They reached Lebanon, and then Turkey, where they arranged to be smuggled into Greece by boat with 18 other migrants, though the boat was meant to be used by no more than six or seven people. After the motor stopped working and the dinghy began to take on water in the Aegean Sea, Mardini, her sister, and two other people who were able to swim got into the water and pushed the boat for over 3 hours until it reached Lesbos and ended up saving her life and those of around 20 other people. Sisters then traveled through Europe to Germany, where they settled in Berlin in September 2015. Her parents also fled Syria and live in Germany.

On arrival in Germany, Mardini continued her training with her coach Sven Spannenkrebs from Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 in Berlin, in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.
She attempted to qualify in the 200 metres freestyle swimming event. In June 2016, Mardini was one of ten athletes selected for the ROT. Mardini competed in the 100 metres freestyle and the 100 metres butterfly at the 2016 Summer Olympics IOC president Thomas Bach said of the refugee athletes, “We help them to make their dream of sporting excellence come true, even when they have to flee war and violence.”

Mardini won a 100m butterfly heat at the Rio Olympics, against only four other swimmers, with a time of 1:09.21 and a rank of 41st among 45 entrants.
On 27 April 2017, Mardini was appointed a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and accepting this new role, Yusra said: “I am thrilled to join the UNHCR family and eager to continue spreading the message that refugees are just normal people living through traumatic and devastating circumstances, who are capable of extraordinary things if only given a chance. The UN Refugee Agency does the most important and incredible work for refugees under extremely challenging circumstances, and I am proud to use my voice to support UNHCR.


#GetVal #SportValues #Refugee #YusraMardini