'Olympics my biggest dream' – Mardini's journey from Syria refugee to Tokyo 2020

'Olympics my biggest dream' – Mardini's journey from Syria refugee to Tokyo 2020

Yusra Mardini will be competing at her second Olympic Games as part of the Refugee Team and hopes to use her platform as an Olympian to fight for a better world.

Mardini represented Syria at the 2012 swimming world championships aged 14.

But after her family home was destroyed during the civil war in Syria, Yusra and her sister fled and set off for Europe via Lebanon and Turkey.

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Mardini made the brave voyage to Lesbos, Greece, on an inflatable boat, but the engine failed and the boat began to take on water.

For three-and-a-half hours they dragged the boat through the waves to the island of Lesbos and Mardini was forced to swim for her life.

Eventually she found refuge in Hamburg, Germany and built on her skill she required to survive into one she could compete at an Olympic level in.

Mardini won her heat in the 100m butterfly at Rio 2016 but was not fast enough to qualify for the semi-finals.

In conversation: Olympic swimmers Yusra Mardini and Katie Ledecky

She hopes her participation in the Games can help end the stigma of being known as a refugee and wants to inspire other refugees to dream big.

“After Rio I took the responsibility to stand up for refugees,” she said in Eurosport’s Trailblazers series.

“To stand up for younger generations to say ‘OK, I have a hard background but I still kept moving and am still dreaming’ as you should.

“I always want to remind people that there are still refugees that are still crossing illegally in a really horrific ways.

“There are still people who are dying at sea and people not welcoming refugees all around the world.

“I want to have my own foundation to support refugees, I want to study as well, I want to act.

“I want to do lots of things but, for me, swimming has been number one and being a part of the Olympic games is my biggest dream.

“My dream is for the world to be at peace and there will be no more refugees anymore. That those wars will end and that we are all equal in the world and live peacefully and in harmony. I know it’s hard but this is my dream.”

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