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Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini surges to victory in her heat of the women’s 100m butterfly, drawing huge cheers from the crowd at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Less than a year earlier, the 18-year-old had fled her home in Damascus to escape the Syrian conflict. On her journey to Europe, she helped save the lives of 20 other migrants when the boat they were travelling in began sinking in the Aegean Sea. Few of the others could swim, so Yusra and her sister jumped into the water and swam for three hours, dragging the boat towards the shore. “I want to tell everyone that ‘refugee’ is not a bad word,” she said. “We’re still humans; we can do a lot of good things to show everyone that we are. My message is just, ‘Never give up’.”

Refugee Olympic Team,
IOC/David Burnett

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