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This Inspirational Olympic Swimmer Rescued Refugees At Sea

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Photo: Courtesy of The Refugee Olympic Team's Facebook.
In case you need another reminder of the resilience and bravery of many of the Olympians at the 2016 Games, take a minute to read about Yusra Mardini.

Mardini is an 18-year-old Syrian refugee and swimmer, who made it to the Rio Olympics as part of the refugee team. If that achievement at such a young age wasn't inspirational enough, she has also saved lives with her talent.

Rio isn't the first time she's represented her country – she competed for Syria at the FINA World Swimming Championships in 2012. But the violent ongoing civil war meant she was forced to flee her home in war-torn Damascus.

In a bid to escape, Mardini and her sister boarded a dinghy, built for six people but carrying 20, to make the treacherous journey from Turkey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, The Independent reported.

The boat's motor failed 30 minutes into the journey and, as one of just four people on the boat who could swim, Mardini, her sister and two others jumped into the water.

Risking their own lives, the group swam for three hours and helped to push and pull the boat to shore – saving the lives of all 16 on board. Mardini eventually found sanctuary in Berlin.

Her story has captivated people around the world and Mardini said she has been "overwhelmed" by the support and media attention she's received.

In a Facebook post
, Mardini said she and her team will not be deciding on film, book and documentary offers until September. "I ask for your understanding that I want to be focussed for the competition, now," she wrote.
Tune in to the women’s 100m freestyle heat later today to watch Mardini in action. She won her butterfly heat on Monday but failed to qualify for the final.

She already has her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. "I want to train a lot so that I arrive there with a good chance," she said after winning her first heat. "I have to thank the fans so much for their support, and on Wednesday I hope to do better."

It's the first time in Olympic history that a refugee team has competed at the Games, reflecting the extent and severity of the ongoing refugee crisis.

The team is made up of ten athletes competing in events from judo to marathon running, from countries also including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
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