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Yusra Mardini (Twitter)

Rio 2016

17-year-old swimmer from Syria may compete on refugee team at Games of the XXXI Olympiad

By WITW Staff on March 3, 2016

A 17-year-old swimmer who fled Damascus, Syria, could be part of a team made up entirely of refugees that will compete at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year. Currently a list of 43 athletes has been approved by the International Olympic Committee and by the time the games begin in August, it will be narrowed to 10 athletes who will compete as the Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes. Among those in contention for a spot on the refugee squad is teenaged swimmer Yusra Mardini from Damascus. She made headlines back in August of last year after she and her sister completed a harrowing journey from Syria that ultimately ended in Berlin. The two, both swimmers, boarded an inflatable boat in Izmir, Turkey, that was headed for the Greek island of Lesbos. But not long into the journey, the boat’s motor broke down in the Aegean Sea. The two girls — the only swimmers among about 20 on board — jumped into the water and over the course of three-and-a-half hours, swam the boat to shore and the passengers to safety. After that incredible feat, the sisters completed the rest of their journey, which took them through five countries, on on land. Mardini is now living safely with her family in Berlin and is one of many refugee athletes who have received a scholarship to help fund their training. Other athletes in contention include a refugee from Iran, another from the Congo — both of whom are martial artists.

Read the full story at CNN.