Syrian Refugee Turns Deadly Swim Into Motivation For Olympics

Priyanka Prasad
Yusra Mardini fled Syria and is now hoping to compete as a swimmer in the 2016 Olympics.

Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini left Damascus, Syria and was making the hazardous journey from Turkey to Greece with over two dozen other Syrian refugees in a boat just seven months ago. Now, she’s hoping to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Mardini’s journey was an extremely perilous and difficult one; at one point, she and her sister abandoned the boat and swam all the way to Greece. As Mashable reports, “The boat was quickly taking on water, and she and her sister, who were both competitive swimmers, jumped into the water in hopes that it would lighten the load. Then they swam for their lives, eventually making it safely to the Greek shores.”

From Greece she made it to Germany, where she received asylum and decided she wanted to get back into training for competitive swimming.

This is the first year the Olympics will have a Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA) team, which 17-year-old Mardini hopes to join. She’s currently competing against 43 other athletes; the final team will include only five to ten athletes.

Mardini expressed the reasoning behind her commitment to the sport: “I want to make all the refugees proud of me. I want to encourage them because even if we are not in our homeland, or even if we had a tough way we still can do a lot of great things."

Even if Mardini does not get a spot on this year’s ROA team, she has faced enough hardship to understand the importance of resilience and hopes to compete in Tokyo in 2020—she told Mashable, “I think even if I fail, I will try again. Maybe I will be sad, but I will not show it. But I will try again and again until I get it."

Banner Image Credit: Twitter, @kamparia