Attention will not go to refugee Mardini's head

YusraMardini - cropped

Mardini dived in and helped push the dinghy safely to the Greek island of Lesbos, before going to start a new life in the German capital Berlin.

Refugee Olympic Team swimmer Yusra Mardini is remaining grounded despite widespread attention her story has received during Rio 2016. When fleeing Syria less than a year ago, Mardini was aboard an overcrowded vessel that began to sink in the Aegean Sea.

Mardini dived in and helped push the dinghy safely to the Greek island of Lesbos, before going to start a new life in the German capital Berlin. The inspirational 18-year-old won her 100 metre butterfly heat, and, although her time was not fast enough for a place in the semi-finals, she is not letting the media attention go to her head.

"There are a lot of stories about me and a lot of people want to take a picture," she said. "This is really good, because it is helping to send our message to the world, and show everyone that refugees can do something.

"But I'll never be like Michael Phelps, as big or as famous. I didn't achieve a lot until now. If I can achieve something, maybe I can be like him. "I'm not going up to other athletes, famous athletes, to get photos. I don't like to disturb them while they are trying to get on with things. Maybe I'll get some at the end.

"I was shaking at the start, before my 100 metre fly race, opening my jacket. I was very nervous. But it was cool. I expected a new personal best, but I didn't do that."

Mardini will swim in the 100 metre freestyle on Wednesday, but she already has one eye on a medal push as part of the Refugee Olympic Team when the Games head to Tokyo in 2020.

"I'm not thinking about if I'll compete for Syria or Germany now," she said. "The IOC has been supporting us refugees. Syria and Germany are both my homes, and now the IOC is my home, too. "I have three homes. The IOC is supporting us for Tokyo. We're going to have to win a medal. We have to."