Yusra Mardini is an athlete of the independent team of FINA, she is an Olympic refugee from Syria, yet she considers herself an average girl with big dreams.
The moderator started off apologising for the absence of Rami Anis, but the athlete was not feeling good after the morning race and decided to stay in the hotel and recover. Then he went on to thank FINA and the International Olympic Committee for their support and for this opportunity to attend.
Before the question session started he introduced Yusra’s new coach, Ariel Rodriguez (he was the trainer of the swimmer throughout the Olympics) as well as the swimmer greeted participants and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to enter the World Championships.
Yusra has received plenty of questions regarding the issue of immigration and she was happy to share her experience and thoughts on the topic. She told that when heading to Greece they had to swim and push their overloaded boat in the water, she talked about the hardships they had to face in order to get to Germany and she also mentioned she had promised herself to return to Hungary one day. Although she had bad memories of the time spent by Keleti railway station now she sees Hungary and its people totally differently. She believes she is just an average girl who never gives up. That’s her strength. She talked happily about locals supporting her cause as well as about volunteers assisting her daily routine.
Then she continued with her view on the issue of immigration: in her opinion, all borders should be open for refugees because anyone can get in a similar situation. She does not say all refugees are people of good intentions, neither are all Europeans, presumably, but everyone deserves to receive help when in need.
The other part of questions asked from her concerned her daily routine and life and her drive to swim. Yusra told she had taken up swimming back in Syria when she was about 3, her father was a swimming coach. Before the outbreak of war, she lived like a typical athlete, she attended school then went to training. She had the opportunity to get back to the sport in Germany, currently, she has 2 pool training a day and 3 dry training a week. She keeps a healthy diet and her everyday life is centred around sport. She expressed her appreciation for fellow swimmers Swedish Sarah Sjöström and the Hungarian Iron Lady Katinka Hosszú.
She did not reveal any details but told there was an autobiographical book on the way and there would be a movie about her life as well, which would show the journey she had taken and would highlight the fact that a coin always has two sides but it requires open-mindedness.
Regardless of becoming an icon for a cause she kept emphasising she was just an ordinary girl with positive attitude who never gives up…