Yusra Mardini and Michael Gunning Make 30 Under 30 Europe List

by Casey Murphy 3

April 22nd, 2024 Britain, Europe, Lifestyle, News

Swimmers Yusra Mardini and Michael Gunning have been named on Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe Sports and Games list. The list recognizes individuals under the age of 30 who have made significant accomplishments in sports and games throughout Europe. 

Mardini’s story was captured on Netflix’s The Swimmers in 2022. Mardini once represented Syria at the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships. She dreamed of swimming at the Olympics, but the odds weren’t in her favor. Her home in Syria was ruined during the Syrian Civil War. She made the decision to flee with her sister Sarah in 2015 at only seventeen years old. 

After making it to Lebanon, and then Turkey, Yusra Mardini and Sarah Mardini were able to get onto a boat that held other migrants. The boat was headed to Greece, but it carried too many people. The motor stopped working, causing Yusra Mardini, Sarah Mardini, and two others to have to jump off and try to get the boat to shore. After nearly dying, the two sisters made their way to Berlin. Mardini started training with her coach Sven Spannekrebs and continued to dream. In 2016, she was chosen to be on the Refugee Olympic Team. 

Mardini qualified again in 2020 and was the Refugee Olympic Team’s flag carrier at the opening ceremony. Since then, she has founded The Yusra Mardini Foundation. The foundation helps refugees follow their athletic dreams through funding, donations, and grants. Refugees can get help with relocating, and they can get the opportunity to get involved in sports and education projects. 

Michael Gunning is another swimmer who made it onto the list. During his career, Gunning had been eligible to represent Jamaica or Great Britain. He went on to make impacts on both teams. He also set national records for each in the 200-meter fly. 

In 2019, he was awarded the Pride Award at the Attitude Pride Awards for his efforts to inspire and represent the LGBTQ+ community in the sports world. Gunning was the first athlete to come out as gay as a member of a Caribbean National Team. Gunning was also one of the only mixed-race swimmers to represent the UK at the time. 

His experiences and accomplishments led him to help start Speedo’s Swim United Campaign, where he helps support minority communities. Gunning retired from swimming in 2022. He is currently a motivational speaker and director. He has talked about mental health and LGBTQ+ rights in several media publications. He was recently in BBC One’s ‘Tom Daley: Illegal to Be Me’ documentary.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

Michael Gunning is great but I’m certain he never set a national record for GB in 200 fly (or any other event).

1 month ago

I love reading about swimming and I will definitely read more from this website! Awesome job!!

1 month ago

Awesome article!!!