Every athlete competing in the Olympics this week followed a different road to Rio. But after a journey like no other, 18 year-old Yusra Mardini is making history as she swims for Olympic Gold.
Last year, as Yusra and her family fled the violence in Syria, the boat they shared with dozens of other desperate passengers started to take on water off the Turkish coast. So the teenager – a top-tier swimmer who represented Syria at the FINA World Championships in 2012 – jumped into the freezing water and started to push.
Thanks to that harrowing swim, Yusra's boat made it safely to Greece. And now, those same skills are carrying her to Rio, where she'll compete with the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team: 10 elite global athletes backed by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Olympic Committee.
Get to know Yusra and the other 9 extraordinary refugees competing at the Olympics:
#TeamRefugees is making Olympic history at a time when more people than ever – over 65 million – have been forced to leave their homes to escape conflict and persecution. For Yusra and her teammates, representing refugees on the world stage is about more than going for gold – it's also about drawing attention to the magnitude of this global crisis and to the resilience and hope of refugees.
Stand with #TeamRefugees by learning about their inspiring stories and spreading them during this month's Olympic Games.
Next month's opening of the UN General Assembly is an opportunity to step up global efforts for refugees. Let's salute the courage of these athletes by helping build support for action now.
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
United Nations Foundation