Last summer, we told you about Yusra Mardini, an Olympic swimmer who represented the Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio Games.
Now 19 years old, she fled war-torn Syria by boat as a teen with her sister after their family became homeless.
During their long trip to the Greek Island of Lesbos in 2015, the boat’s motor stopped. As longtime competitive swimmers, Mardini and her sister, along with a few others, jumped in the water and pushed the boat to shore. It took them three hours, but all 20 refugees made it safely to Europe.
How much can things change in less than three years? More than anyone can imagine. Now, the freestyle and butterfly swimmer is an Under Armour brand ambassador, according to Ad Week.
“This shows that you can achieve anything you want in life because limits only exist in our mind,” she said in a Facebook post.
“We are inspired by her drive and accomplishments, both as a person and as an athlete,” Chris Bate, Under Armour’s managing director for Europe, said. “The way in which she is dealing with life’s challenges, both past and present, shows a tremendous amount of character.”
The apparel giant put out a great 90-second ad to highlight her story.
“I shouldn’t be alive today,”Mardini says in the spot. “I should have been killed by the bomb that hit the pool in Damascus. I should have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. I should have been one of the many faces who died along the way, but I am here, alive, because I kept moving.”
Take a look:
After arriving in Greece, Mardini and her sister worked their way to Berlin, where they reunited with their father, lived in a refugee camp, and joined a local swimming club to continue pursuing their passion.
Mardini didn’t medal as a member of the 10-person Refugee Olympic Team, but since then, she’s become the youngest Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR in history. She was also named one of Time’s 30 Most influential Teens of 2016.
Up next? Who knows. But, at 19 years old, the sky’s the limit for someone who lives so fearlessly.