Rio fever: Meet ‘refugee’ athlete Yusra Mardini who ‘swam’ from Syria to the Olympics
Recounting the horror she and her elder sister had to face when an overloaded boat started to sink as they were crossing the Mediterranean to Greece, Yusra Mardini (18), who is a member of first ever Olympic refugee team, said that she is hopeful of a good performance in the world’s biggest sporting event.
"When I was in the water there was fear. You don't know whether you are going to live or die," Mardini, who will compete in the 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly, said.
While crossing Mediterranean to Greece, Mardini along with another refugee had also saved 19 lives by jumping in the sea and pulling the boat for three hours through the water.
“When I was swimming for my life, I never would have believed I would be where I am now. Before you go on the boat, people tell you that you are going to die," the girl said.
Her elder sister Sara, also a swimmer, said that they thought “it was their duty to jump in the water and save others otherwise they will feel bad for rest of the life."
Mardini, who stays with her sister live in Germany, said that they left their home from war-torn Syrian capital Damascus a year ago and headed to Turkey.
Mardini informed that she has been practicing for the Rio games from last August at one of the oldest swimming clubs, built by Nazis for the 1936 Olympics.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games opening ceremony kicked off today with fireworks shot from Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. This is for the first time refugees were recognised as a separate team with International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, saying, "We do not just tolerate diversity, but welcome it as an enrichment to our unity.”