Teenager Yusra Mardini was among Syria’s brightest swimming stars until the war interrupted her progress in the sport.
With her sister she fled Damascus, made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean sea from Turkey to Greece – swimming part of the way due to the boat being overcrowded – before finally arriving in Germany looking for a better and more stable future.
She said: “Our house was destroyed so we don’t have anything anymore, so we ran away. And Europe, I think the most of them are welcoming the refugees with a really nice way.”
Her travels might not end in Berlin.
The 18-year-old could soon be on her way to Rio de Janeiro as she is part of a 43-strong group of refugees identified as potential Olympians.
Mardini is not one to let her past get in the way of her future.
She said: “My message is that no one has to stop because of problems or because an accident or anything happens. I think everyone have to fail until they succeed.”
Training at a local swimming club in Berlin she is now vying for the chance to compete in the 200 metres freestyle in Rio as part of Team Refugee Olympic Athletes, although currently she is seven seconds off the qualification time needed to compete.
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