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What Olympian Yusra Mardini wants people to know about refugees

The swimmer is a member of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.
Refugee Swimmer Yusra Mardini
Yusra Mardini stars in a new Olympics video about the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images for IOC
/ Source: TODAY

After inspiring the world as a member of the first-ever IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Rio in 2016, Yusra Mardini is ready to go for the gold once again in Tokyo.

The swimmer appears in a moving new Olympics ad titled “We chose to keep our dreams alive” and emphasizes how each refugee Olympic athlete has a unique story to tell.

"We don't share a nation or a language. Each of us has a different story. But there is something we all have in common: We chose to keep our dreams alive," Mardini says at the beginning of the video.

"We carried them with us across oceans and deserts and cities. We brought them together to form a team greater than ourselves, one that defies borders and limits, a team that belongs to everyone. Because the starting line doesn't care who we are, only that we face it together."

Mardini, who fled from a civil war in her home country of Syria in 2015, has a pretty impressive story. During her journey, Mardini was on a boat that broke on its way to Greece. She and her sister joined three other passengers and heroically pushed the boat ashore for three hours.

The swimmer, now 23, spoke about the experience during an interview with the Olympic Channel earlier this year.

“The whole way, you can just hear all of our prayers in one voice,” she recalled.

Mardini had previously told the Olympic Channel that she'd dreamed of pursuing her passion for swimming her entire life but lacked the opportunity to do so in Syria.

“Sport was our way out,” Mardini said. “It was kind of what gave us hope to build our new lives.”

Mardini would eventually settle in Germany and less than a year later, she found herself competing as a member of the first-ever IOC Refugee Olympic Team in 2016. Now she's back with an even bigger team.

In June, the 23-year-old officially announced that she was heading to Tokyo and expressed her gratitude to her followers.

"Thank you to each and everyone who supported and continues to support me and the @refugeeolympicteam, let’s go team Refugees 🙌🏽," she wrote at the time.

On Friday, the swimmer was beaming with pride as she carried her team's flag during the Olympics opening ceremony.

In a new Instagram post, Mardini gave an update on her Olympics experience thus far and said she didn't swim as well as she'd been hoping, but added that she's excited to continue her journey.

"I am so proud of the fact that I am representing 80 million refugees around the world knowing I am sending a message of hope to all of them doing what I love, also showing the world that refugees won’t give up easy and will keep on dreaming even after going through tough journeys," she wrote.