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- (CNN)Ahead of competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Yusra Mardini, along with the nine other athletes that make up the Olympic Refugee Team were sent a letter by Pope Francis.
- "I extend my greetings and wish you success at the Olympic Games in Rio -- that your courage and strength find expression through the Olympic Games and serve as a cry for peace and solidarity," wrote the Pope.
- Aged 14, Mardini swam for Syria at swimming's short-course world championships in 2012. But with her home destroyed in the ongoing conflict, she and her sister decided to flee the country in August last year.
- From Lebanon they reached Turkey and then took a boat to Greece -- but the boat began to slowly sink as it took on water during the journey.
- Mardini had to jump into the water and, summoning all of her swimming and survival know-how, help push the boat and its occupants until it safely reached Greek shores.
- "I thought it would be a real shame if I drowned in the sea, because I am a swimmer," is how she summed up the nightmare to reporters earlier this year. She is now living and training in Germany.
- "These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem," International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said when he announced the selected athletes last month. The IOC came up with the plan in March, creating a $2 million training fund and shortlisting dozens of refugee athletes for potential selection.
- Bach added: "These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit."