Last August, four years into the Syrian civil war, the 18-year-old fled her home. Like many other refugees, she and her sister ended up on small boat bound for the island of Lesbos off the coast of Greece. The boat began to sink, and Yusra jumped in the water. For three hours she and her sister pushed the boat to shore, saving nearly 20 lives.
Yusra traveled 1,500 miles through Turkey and central Europe before settling in Berlin, Germany, where she trained for the Olympics. She’s now part of the first refugee team to ever compete in the Games.
“When you have a problem in your life that doesn’t mean you need to sit down and cry like babies. The problem was the reason why I am here, and why I am stronger and I want to reach my goals.”
While Yusra won’t be leaving Rio with an Olympic medal, it doesn’t matter. She already swam the race of a lifetime.