Inspiring Syrian Refugee’s Journey to Olympics

Looking back as YusraMardini was swimming for her life, she never thought to be where she is now.

The young 18-year-old girl just imagined practicing at the swimming venue of the Olympics as she needed to swim for her life when the boat carrying her and the others overturned in the Mediterranean Sea.

A year ago while trying to reach Europe, Syrian refugeeYusraMardini had to swim for her life when her vessel broke down; but this month the young teen will now swim in the Rio Olympics.

Yusra, who is part of the first ever Olympic refugee group, told how she and her sister Sara dreaded they may die after their boat that’s overloaded began taking in water as they crossed the Mediterranean to Greece.

Together with another refugee, they jumped into the ocean and pulled the watercraft for three hours through the water, sparing the lives of 19 others.

Yusra narrated that when she was in the water, she felt the fear.Not knowing whether you are going to live or die is beyond words. She hopes to get an Olympic medal and that the place she grew up is in peace again.

Mardini, who will contend in the 100-meter freestyle, is among 10 athletes on the refugee group that will walk behind the Olympic banner at opening service in Brazil.

Together with her sister Sara, both now live in Germany. They left their home in Syria’s war-battered capital Damascus a year back and went to Turkey.

One night they got on a boat on the Turkish coast alongside 20 others ― three times the boat’s capacity.Many warned them that boarding the boat will be a mistake and treacherous so the first thing they thought of getting on the boat is death.

The young teen eventually helped save many lives in that perilous sea voyage.

Hundreds have perished while crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey as they attempted to get to Europe after escaping conflicts in their country.

Sara, likewise a swimmer, said she advised her sister that in case the boat sinks they should spare themselves as it is extremely difficult to help other people.

Lo and behold, when the motor halted and the boat began collapsing she understood she couldn’t let the others die.

She knew they needed less weight and no one else other than us could swim. When she first got into the water her entire body was shaking as it does just before the competition, she tells. It was then she realized that life was bigger than her. The people on the boat was part of her

Yusra thought it was her obligation to get into the water, that if she had abandoned them,she would feel awful with me for the rest of her life.

Two hours in the water and she was fighting exhaustion and knew she runs the risk of sleeping off and drowning. She narrates that it was getting dark and water cold, with the wind blowing, she was freezing. She could not even open her eyes and were full of salt water.

They eventually landed in the Greek islands.

Telling her experience, Yusra hopes her story will inspire others.

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