Gwangju, South Korea, Jul 26 : Refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini of Syria has her sights set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, after competing in this year's FINA World Championships in Gwangju.
Mardini raced in the championships as one of the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team (ROT) members. The 21-year-old is currently living in Germany, after fleeing her war-torn homeland in August 2015. "A lot of people have asked me what I'm representing, and the first word I said was peace, because that's exactly what I'm representing and what my team is representing," said Mardini.
"The war is still going on, and I think no matter how much the media is showing, it's still worse than in the media. It's always tricky and it's always sad, and sometimes that affects me, especially when I'm in a competition. I do not look at the news, never [during the competition]," she added.
Mardini raced in the women's 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly heats at the tournament, despite a niggling shoulder complaint. "I've had the problem for three years now in my left shoulder. Swimmers are swimming 6 to 7 km a day all the time, so it was too much pressure on my shoulders. Now it's way better. I know how to deal with it now, and it's going really good," said Mardini.
"The next goal is obviously to qualify for the next Olympics, which is Tokyo 2020. I want to be there to compete again and I also want to represent the refugee Olympic team again," said the swimmer.
Mardini said she hoped to raise global awareness of the stories of other refugees, including children and families who have been separated. "I think I have a role now and have a responsibility to get those people's voices to other people as well. Right now I cannot do something very big, but I want to start a foundation or maybe build a school to do something for refugees and to save people," said Mardini. (XINHUA)