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Yusra Mardini Aims to Win Gold for Refugees

Yusra Mardini Germany

Yusra Mardini has been selected as a team member of the Refugee Olympic Athletes in Rio, and is now looking to win gold.

It’s been over 10 months since Yusra Mardini fled Syria with her sister, Sarah. War had been ravaging the country for years, and her hometown of Damascus was no longer safe. The Mardini sisters first made it to Beirut, then to Izmir, before finding a boat smuggler to guide them to the Greek Island of Lesbos. Twenty people crammed into the boat made for six, and set off into the sea.

Thirty minutes into the ride, the boat’s motor stopped working. The hull began filling with water, and that’s when Yusra Mardini’s instincts kicked it. She and her sister, along with another woman, jumped into the sea and began pushing the boat all the way to shore. “I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea, because I am a swimmer.” She told German press.

Mardini and her sister eventually made it to Berlin, where they have spent the past 10 months. She continued to swim competitively, and was immediately noticed by Germany’s Olympic swimming coach Sven Spannkrebs. In early June, Yusra Mardini made US gambling news when she was chosen as only one of 10 athletes to represent the Refugee Olympic Athletes team at just 17 years of ago.

Yusra Mardini and her teammates are going for gold

A number of other powerful athletes will be representing the refugees in Rio. Popole Misenga fled the Democratic Republic of Congo to escape violence. He too was left without a country, but through talent and perseverance is now set to compete in the -90 kg judo event. “I cannot fight for my country. I will fight for the Olympics. I will fight for all refugees in the world, to defend all refugees in the world.” He said.

Misenga judo

Popole Misenga will compete in the -90 kg judo event (photo: tempsreel.nouveljobs.com)

The entire ROA team has incredible stories to tell. They represent something much larger than athletics, something that people across the world have been struggling with for years, and no clear solution has been presented. They will give hope to millions of refugees across the planet, and are without a doubt the group of athletes to cheer for in Rio.

As for Mardini, she is unsure about how she will fare against her Olympic competitors, but is enjoying the process nonetheless, telling the Associated Press, “this will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.”

Will Yusra Mardini win gold in Rio? What do you think of her story? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US to find the best websites to bet on the 2016 Olympics!

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