This is Yusra Mardina. An inspiring 18-year-old Syrian refugee who defeated drowning and made it through the treacherous Aegean Sea with her sister Sarah and other 18 refugees on the same boat.
During the attempt to travel, the motor of the boat that carried 20 refugees including her, stopped working. What Mardina, Sarah (her sister) and another survivor did was jump off the boat, then swim and push the boat until they reached Lesbos, Greece. Mardina told the U.N refugee agency in an interview “It would have been shameful if the people on our boat had drowned” because she and her sister are aspiring Syrian swimmers on training to represent Syria. Her bravery made headlines and now her dream to compete in the Olympic game may come true.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, she said: “I think first of all I want to do it for all the people; I want to inspire everyone. When you have a problem in your life, it doesn’t mean you have to sit around and be sad about it. My problem is also the reason why I’m standing here today, and why I am stronger and want to reach my goals. So I want to inspire everyone to believe in their own dreams.
Now, she is among 43 hand-picked refugees identified as potential Olympians by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). These selected athletes will eventually qualify and form a team of 5 to 10 athletes that will be going to Rio and they will march as a team called the Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA). “The 43 belong to different sports, mainly athletics and swimming,” said the IOC’s Pere Miro, Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement. The team includes Ethiopians, Syrians and South Sudanese refugees among others. If she has a qualified time, she will be among the 10 refugee athletes to represent ROA in Rio for the 2016 Olympics.
Currently she and her family are under asylum protection in Germany. She wishes that one day she can go back to Syria and teach what she learned in Germany. As she said in an interview with UNHCR: “ I miss Syria” and “I think after the war stops I will go back with experience, with everything, and I will teach everyone what I had here in Germany.”
She hopes that as she competes in the Olympic games in 2016 as part of the Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA), she will inspire millions of refugees to never forget about their dreams. Even now, she is an inspiration to millions of refugees.