The road to the Olympic Games is a challenging one. Any athlete could crumble under the burden of rigorous training regimens, pressures to perform, and uncertainties about what the future holds. Still, it comes as little surprise that Yusra Mardini had the mental toughness to take on the challenges associated with training as an elite athlete.
The teen made her Olympic debut last summer in the 100-meter free and 100-meter fly, and the inspiring story of how she got there is far from typical. At her first games, Mardini competed under the Olympic flag for the first Refugee Olympic Team.
Mardini’s journey to the Olympics was more difficult than most. Her swimming career started in Syria, a scenario complicated when the civil war broke out in 2011. In an interview, she commented “the war was hard; sometimes we couldn’t train because of the war. Or sometimes you had training but there was a bomb in the swimming pool.”
With the escalation of the conflict at home, Mardini, like millions of other Syrians, fled the country. She left Damascus and made her way into Turkey with her sister. From there, she headed to Greece by way of the Aegean Sea. A small boat, built to carry six passengers, had twenty refugees aboard. Somewhere in crossing the boat’s small motor broke, and the vessel started filling with water. All but three of the refugees aboard did not know how to swim.
Jan 16, 2019Lebanon's Syrian refugee camps battered by winter storms Bekaa Valley, Lebanon – Syrian refugees in Lebanon are struggling with the aftermath of a storm that drenched the country's eastern and northern regions, delivered floodwaters and damaged hundreds of makeshift camps. Storm Norma, which last week brought with it incessant rain and snowfall, affected more than 22,000 refugees, […]
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