Rio 2016: Yusra Mardini, Syrian refugee who won hearts at the Olympics, vows to keep swimming

Mardini, a Christian from Damascus, fled civil war in Syria last year with her sister.Reuters

Yusra Mardini, the 18-year-old Syrian refugee who won hearts while competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, says her team has helped open the world's eyes to the plight of refugees.

After finding herself out of the games having finished seventh in her heat of the 100m freestyle swimming on Wedneday, Mardini said the Refugee Team, which stars athletes from Syria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, had educated the international community about the troubles faced by people displaced by war and persecution.

"Absolutely, absolutely yes because this team is amazing and there are all the colours, all the countries all the nations and yes this is amazing," she told reporters.

Mardini, from Damascus, fled civil war in Syria last year with her sister. The two helped swim their boat carrying 20 people across the sea to Lesbos when its motor failed during the crossing from Turkey.

They swam for three and a half hours, pulling the boat and stopping it from capsizing – saving the lives of all those on board.

Mardini was granted asylum in Germany, where her swimming talents were spotted, leading to her becoming the first member of a 10-strong refugee team to compete in Brazil.

She won her heat in the 100m butterfly last Saturday, but her time was not enough to see her through to the semi finals. Finishing seventh on Wednesday put her out of the games, but she told reporters: "I want to continue swimming and I want to continue supporting refugees".

The official Team Refugees Twitter account posted photos from yesterday's race: