Syrian Refugee Girl: A Winner in the Water
It was what Yusra Mardini left unsaid, rather than the conventional words of excitement, that made the bigger impression after the teenager’s debut in the Olympic pool in Rio den Janeiro. “I was only thinking about water and the last competitions and where I am now,” the Syrian, swimming for a refugee team at Rio Olympics, told reporters when asked what went through her mind ahead of her 100 metre butterfly heat.
Rio is a life away from where she started. To get to the point where she could discuss simple strokes and times involved fleeing Syria, making a treacherous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece and arriving in Berlin with her sister last year. She swam part of that crossing over to the island of Lesbos, helping other refugees who were in the water and were unable to swim. “It was quite hard to think that you are a swimmer and you might end up dying in the water,” she said later. A competitive swimmer in Syria, she is now part of a refugee team backed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).