Yusra Mardini, the Syrian teen who won her preliminary heat of the women’s 100 meter butterfly last summer in Rio as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team, has added another sponsor to her growing list: Under Armour.
In March of 2016, Michael Phelps starred in Under Armour’s debut “Rule Yourself” ad: an inspirational montage of Phelps’ training in the final months before the 2016 US Olympic Trials. The video paid tribute to Phelps’ long career and also made it clear that Rio was to be Phelps’ “last goodbye” to Olympic swimming (as a competitor).
Mardini’s ad, much like her own journey to the Olympics, is quite different from Phelps’. Unlike Phelps’ ad, which contains no dialogue from the GOAT himself, Mardini narrates the entire video.
Mardini’s story–her escape from the war in Syria to the Olympic stage in Rio–is punctuated by challenges that she says should have stopped her, or killed her. But instead of giving in and becoming one of the “faceless refugees” Mardini “kept moving.” Now, when Mardini is feeling too tired to continue during training, she only has to reflect on the multitude of times she has overcome adversity in order to survive.
To escape Syria Mardini fled to Turkey, where she later took a boat intended for the Greek island of Lesbos. However, the boat’s engine died hours before reaching land, so Mardini and her sister got out and pushed the boat to shore. In addition to being a professional athlete, Mardini serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency.