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Mardini OLY

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Refugee Champion & Olympic Swimmer


Yusra Mardini is an Olympic swimmer, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, and the subject of the critically-acclaimed Netflix film, The Swimmers.

Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Yusra and her sister, Sara, made the difficult decision to flee the civil war in 2015 and undertake a perilous journey to safety. Yusra and Sara traveled to Lebanon and Turkey before attempting to reach Greece by boat. They and 20 others were crowded onto a small boat in the Aegean Sea when the motor failed. Yusra, Sara, and two others jumped into the water and swam the boat to safety, saving the lives of everyone onboard.

After reaching Europe, Yusra and her sister made their way to Berlin, Germany, where they found their new home and Yusra resumed her swimming training.

Her dream of participating in the Olympic Games came true with the Refugee Olympic Team at the Rio 2016 Games, and again at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Her participation received extensive media coverage and served as a source of inspiration for athletes around the world.

Current Work:

In 2017, Yusra was appointed the youngest-ever UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. As Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Yusra advocates for the more than 90 million refugees and internally displaced around the world.

She has addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly, World Economic Forum, and the Global Women’s Forum, among many other world stages.

Yusra’s incredible story is told in her memoir Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian- My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph and in the critically-acclaimed Netflix film, The Swimmers. She has been profiled in media outlets around the world, and recently established her own charitable foundation in order to expand her work helping others in need.

Talking Points


Yusra's Keynote Presentations are focused around the following themes:
- Women in Leadership
- Overcoming Adversity
- Sports
- Inspiration & Motivation
- Human Rights
- Activism & Advocacy
- Inclusion
- Resilience
- Mindset
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