Eighteen-year-old Yusra Mardini fled Damascus with her sister in light of the dangers in Syria. She ended up saving 20 other Syrian refugees from drowning.
As she and several others made their way across the Aegean Sea in an over-packed boat, it began to fill with water. She and a couple others jumped into the frigid water to push the boat to safety. It took three hours of swimming.
“Everyone was praying on the boat and they were telling me, ‘You are really Courage Girl,’” she told CBS News. “And was like ‘Just shut up and leave me alone now.'”
This young woman earned herself a spot in the Olympics on the German swimming team after some coaches noticed her incredible skills and determination.
“When you have [a] problem in your life that doesn’t mean you need to sit down and cry like babies,” she told CBS News. “The problem was the reason why I am here, and why I am stronger and I want to reach my goals.”
Yusra and her sister then swam to Berlin, where they both began their Olympic training. At first, the plan was to get them ready for the 2020 games, but when the Olympic committee created a Refugee Olympic Team for the 2016 games, they decided Yusra should compete right away.
“Now I have 10 trainings in the water and five [on dry land],” she said in an interview (see below). “And I do two trainings with the group…and three alone. Actually, sometimes I have to wake up, like, at 5 to have a training, extra training. But we are moving really fast and this is good.”
Despite being forced out of her country, out from her home, she continues to swim upstream and fight the resistance that life gives.
“I want to tell everyone that I really miss Damascus,” Yusra at a press conference in Rio. “I want everyone to think of their dreams, because a lot of people there forget their dreams.”
She got to march under the flag of the Refugee Team, and although she didn’t win a medal, she won her 100m butterfly heat.
She’s obviously got the right mentality because now she has competed on a world-class level — not to mention that she helped save 20 people’s lives!
Let this serve as a reminder to not let go of your dreams, whether it’s finding love, buying that dream ranch, or making it as country music star.
Why not go for the gold?