Published On: Sun, Aug 7th, 2016

Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini wins 100m butterfly heat but fails to qualify for next round


Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini wins 100m butterfly heat but fails to qualify for next round

Mardini has another chance at medal on Wednesday when she will compete in 100-metre freestyle category

Swimmer Yusra Mardini, who survived a harrowing sea crossing a year ago and is now among 10 refugees competing under the Olympic flag in Rio, won her preliminary heat in the 100-meter butterfly.

But the result wasn’t enough to advance her to the semifinals.

Mardini’s time of 1:9.21 put her 41st overall in the preliminary round yesterday, and only the top 16 swimmers moved on to the late-night semifinals. Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden had the top qualifying time of 56.26 seconds.

Mardini will compete in a second individual event Wednesday when she swims the women’s 100-meter freestyle.

Mardini was a competitive swimmer in Syria until she fled the war with her sister last August and survived a hazardous crossing on the Aegean Sea to reach Europe.

The Mardini sisters had been among Syria’s brightest swimming stars and their family had been moving around to avoid the fighting so they could continue swimming. But the war intensified and eventually the decision was made to leave altogether.

The sisters joined a wave of Syrian refugees who left Damascus last summer. They made their way to Lebanon and then Turkey, where they paid smugglers to take them to Greece.

Their first attempt was thwarted when Turkish coastguards drove their boat back so they tried again, boarding a small inflatable dinghy at dusk. All but three of the 20 people crowded on the dinghy couldn’t swim. Within half an hour, the boat was taking on water.

The passengers’ bags were thrown overboard in an effort to stay afloat as wind churned up the Aegean Sea. But it wasn’t enough. As a last resort, the Mardini sisters and another strong swimmer jumped into the water to give the boat more buoyancy.

For 3 1/2 hours they clung to the side of the small boat until it reached the Greek island of Lesbos. A weekslong overland trek followed through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.

They had to hide from police in cornfields to reach Hungary.

Eventually, the sisters made it to Austria and then Germany, where they have since been joined by the rest of their family in Berlin.

News Source DNA India

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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