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Syrian Olympic Swimmer Saved 20 Refugees by Swimming Their Sinking Boat to Shore

Mardini one of 10 athletes forming the first ever refugee team to compete in Olympics

From Vatican Radio:

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games kicks off Friday evening in Rio de Janeiro. And for the first time, a team of refugee athletes from around the world will compete in the Games.

Just braving the dangers of escaping oppressive situations of conflict and persecution isn’t enough for some people. They want to show the world their resilience and untapped talent.

And the United Nations refugee agency is giving them that opportunity by hosting the first ever team of refugee athletes to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio.

Ten refugees were chosen from the more than 59.5 million people displaced from their homes around the world to form the Refugee Olympic Athletes team.

The squad is made up of two Syrian swimmers, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a marathon runner from Ethiopia, and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan.

Former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe is the Mission Head for the Refugee Team.

“I’m seeing the champions here. I’m seeing world records among this people. We just started in October last year, and these people came from very difficult situations. To have refugee status is not easy: You are nobody. You are somebody but you are nobody in the eyes of others.”

One of the team’s swimmers, Syrian Yusra Mardini, saved her own life and those of 20 other refugees as their boat began taking on water off the Greek coast.

She and her sister jumped into the water and began pushing their boat towards the Greek coast.

Miz. Mardini said her participation in the Games represents hope for all refugees.

“I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days. I want everyone not to give up on their dreams.”

The Olympic Games run until August 21 and will see some 11,000 athletes participate from 205 countries.

(from Vatican Radio)

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