Eighteen-year-old Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini was selected to compete as a member of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team in 2016. She swam in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio.
Yusra fled Damascus with her sister, travelling through Lebanon and Turkey before trying to reach Greece by boat. When the motor failed, Yusra, her sister and two others jumped into the sea and swam for three hours in open water to stop their dinghy from capsizing, saving the lives of 20 people. Eventually they reached the Greek island of Lesvos.
She now lives in Berlin but much of her extended family is still in Damascus, enduring life under very difficult circumstances. Yusra is still concerned with the situation at home in Syria. Her own experience of flight has made her determined to help focus the attention of the world on refugee issues.
Since competing at Rio 2016, Yusra has gone on to address world leaders, meet the Pope and been honoured with many awards. She is determined to continue to build and develop her voice and skills as an advocate for the refugee cause.
Yusra attended the 2017 World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017. She was the Forum’s youngest participant and shared her story on the WEF blog. Learn more about Yusra's experiences since competing at Rio, including her time at Davos, here.
“Since Rio I’ve been training hard but I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I can do to help refugees across the world. The most important thing in my life is swimming. Then speaking and doing things to help refugees.”
Additional media materials on Yusra are available here.
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