“A person can do incredible things if he or she has enough hope.”– Shannon K. Butcher
Yusra Mardini is a Syrian-born professional swimmer who is a member of the Refugee Olympic Team. Growing up in Damascus, Syria, Mardini began swimming under the coaching of the Syrian Olympic Committee. Before the war in Syria, represented the country at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships.
Her family home was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War, due to which she fled the country with her older sister at the age of 16 in 2014. Describing the situation in Syria, Mardini said, “I was working as hard as people in Europe but I knew I would not reach [my goals]. Why? Because there is war. Sometimes you’re swimming and a bomb comes in the pool, so you have to run out and go hide. It wasn’t just once, it was three or four times. It was horrific.”
The sisters reached Turkey, where they were smuggled into Greece in a heavily overcrowded boat that held double the amount of people it could withstand. During the journey, the boat’s motor broke, leaving them stranded. The sisters and three others jumped into the water and took turns kicking and dragging the boat for three and a half hours before eventually reaching safety. The traumatic experience made Mardini hate the sea, according to the International Olympic Committee. They then traveled on foot through Europe to Germany, where they settled in Berlin in September 2015.
2016 Rio Olympics
She continued her training in Germany and, in 2016, was one of the only 10 athletes to become a member of the first-ever Olympic Refugee Team. Her participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics provided her a platform to become the spokesperson of her and other inspiring refugee stories worldwide.
In 2016 she gave a speech to open the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees and Migrants, hosted by US President Barack Obama in the USA. In her speech, she said, “I want to help change people’s perception of what a refugee is. For everyone to understand it is not a choice to flee from your home and that refugees are normal people that can achieve great things if given the opportunity.”.
She qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as part of the Refugee Team for the second time.
Honors and Achievements
In 2017, Mardini was appointed the youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, aged 19. In 2018, she published her autobiography titled ‘Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian – My Story of Rescue, Hope, and Triumph,’ which will be adapted into a film and released in 2022, according to Wikipedia.
Mardini and her sister’s resilience in surviving in unimaginably tough circumstances is a symbol of women’s empowerment and undefeated willpower. From having her home destroyed by bombs, pulling a boat full of people to safety, to becoming an Olympian and a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Yusra Mardini’s story is a symbol of hope for child refugees worldwide.
Team Global Child Prodigy Congratulates Yusra Mardini for her historic and outstanding achievements. This will inspire millions of people worldwide, including children who aspire to be like her.
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