Syrian refugee athlete Yusra Mardini now has a brand home. Today Under Armour has added the 19-year-old Olympic swimmer to its team of international athletes, celebrating her arrival in a powerful new film.
The video depicts various scenes of Mardini in training--throwing punches, breathing heavily after a hard workout, fighting against the current in a wave pool--intercut with more quiet, introspective moments of her remembering the hurdles she faced as a refugee, fleeing Damascus to find a new home. Her father had saved money to bring the family to Turkey, but once there, they had tremendous challenges. Mardini and her sister, for example, had to help haul a broken motor boat of refugees from Turkey across the sea to the Greek isle of Lesbos, after men on board had already given up. In short, the obstacles she faces now are nothing compared to what she's overcome as a refugee.
"I shouldn't be alive today," her voiceover recites. "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 of refugees who died along the way, but I am here, alive because I kept moving. So many things tried to stop me, break me, so many times something whispered, this, now this will defeat you. But I kept moving And now when my exhaustion rises, I remember. And my strength just rises higher. It says greater thing than this have tried to stop me, and I keep moving." The film ends with the line, "Turn your pain into strength," followed by the brand's tag, "I Will."
"We are inspired by her drive and accomplishments, both as a person and as an athlete," says Chris Bate, Under Armour managing director, Europe in a statement. "The way in which she is dealing with life's challenges, both past and present, shows a tremendous amount of character."