Team Refugees: Yusra Mardini

Swimming, 100 meter freestyle and 100 meter butterfly

In the summer of 2015, Yusra Mardini was just one of four people who knew how to swim on board the small inflatable boat crammed with 20 passengers. When the dinghy seemed at risk of capsizing, Mardini and her sister, both competitive swimmers in Syria, slid into the Mediterranean and swam for more than three hours — pushing the boat to the Greek Island of Lesbos. 

Mardini, now 18, had set off on her journey bound for Germany after her Damascus home was bombed and her swim training cut short. “Sometimes you had a bomb in the swimming pool,” she said.

Once in Greece, Mardini and her sister travelled north  through Europe where they found a mixed reception. Some people helped them along the way, others stole from them. Once in Germany, Mardini, who had competed for Syria on the international racing circuit, was able to resume her training at one of the best swim clubs in Berlin.

"All of us in the water, you will forget who you are, what you did in your life, and which country you are from. You are a swimmer, and whoever is next to you is a swimmer, too, even if it is a world champion." —Yusra Mardini

Team Refugees Heads to the Closing Ceremony

Congratulations to Team Refugees! We look forward to celebrating you again at the closing ceremony. We stand with you.

Team Refugee's Rose Nathike Lokonyen Prepares to Race

Rose Nathike Lokonyen, the Team Refugees flag bearer, steps onto the track Wednesday morning in hopes of continuing her incredible journey, from escaping the conflict of South Sudan, to her first competitions barefoot running through a camp in northern Kenyan, to Nairobi where she lives and trains, and now to Rio where she'll compete in Wednesday's 800m Olympic preliminaries. Watch her race here.

Kakuma Stands With Team Refugees

The refugees at Kakuma had the opportunity to watch five of their own compete on the international stage when FilmAid Kenya screened the Olympic Games at the camp in Northern Kenya. The five South Sudanese runners on Team Refugees represent the hopes and aspirations of millions — see what they mean to those back at Kakuma. 

How Misenga Made History Twice in Rio

Congratulation to Team Refugees member Popole Misenga. He competed in judo in Rio and inspired millions. Read more about his moving story here. 

Cheering on Team Refugees in Competition Today

Team Refugees' James Nyang Chiengjiek, Yiech Pur Biel, and Anjelina Nadai Lohalith compete in track and field events today in Rio. As we watch these extraordinary athletes take the world stage, let's take this opportunity to tell everyone we stand with Team Refugees. 

Read more about the South Sudanese runners' jaw-dropping journeys fleeing violence to the refugee camp Kakuma — and how they joined Team Refugees to compete in Rio.

Team Refugees: Five Athletes' Remarkable Journeys

From the flames of war in southern Sudan, five young runners who survived violence, displacement and the confines of a refugee camp are preparing to make history at the Rio Games.

The three men and two women make up half of the first refugee Olympic team. They never imagined they would ever make it this far.

The first time Anjelina Nadai Lohalith heard about the Olympics was when she found out she made the team.

"What is a Rio?" she recalled asking. "We didn't know whether it is a country or a name of a person. We didn't know. It was just like a dream."

Now it's a reality.

Read about their stories here.

Mardini's Journey Not Nearly Over

While Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini came in seventh in her heat Wednesday, meaning she won't continue onto the semi-finals, her journey as a role model to millions is hardly over. 

Congratulations to, Yusra, and all of those on Team Refugees for accomplishing the truly extraordinary. The world is watching and supporting you all. 

Misenga's Coach: 'For me, he left the arena with a medal on his chest'

Team Refugees' Popole Misenga won his preliminary fight this morning in judo, but lost to South Korean Donghan Gwak in the second round. But that doesn't mean he's not a champion in our eyes and in those of his fellow refugees. 

How Two Judokas Went From Orphanage to the Olympic Stage

Yolande Mabika and Popole Misenga both fled the Democratic Republic of Congo at a young age and were sent to orphanages where they discovered judo. Now Mabika and Misenga are competing in Rio as part of the first-ever all-refugees team. 

"My message to the refugees of the world would be not to give up on hope, and to keep believing, to have faith in their hearts," says Mabika.

Misenga competes at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, and Mabika competes at 9 a.m. ET on Friday.

See their remarkable stories here.

See How Team Refugees Inspires Other Refugee Athletes

A boxer who fled Iraq explains what Team Refugees means to him in this video from Purpose, which partnered with UNICEF and UNHCR. "The first time I heard a team of refugees would compete in Rio, it motivated me," he says. 

This video gives us the feels. Check it out now.

Rami Anis: 'What a Great Feeling. I Am in a Dream'

Congratulations to Team Refugees' Rami Anis! The Syrian swimmer competed in the 100-meter freestyle today, and will swim again in the 100-meter butterfly on Thursday at noon ET.