"They want to go home, to seek peace, to have lives like anyone else's". Still, by the very special terms she'd set for herself, this was a victory. But the Olympic flag united us together, and now we are representing 60 million [people] around the world.
At the time, the International Olympic Committee president said he hoped they would show how much refugees can contribute. And I hope that everyone will continue to achieve their dreams.
Fortunately, 18-year-old Mardini survived the battle with the sea. As Mardini's home was destroyed in the Syrian war in 2015, she and her sister made a decision to leave their homeland for Germany, the destination of hundreds of thousands of war refugees in the Middle East.
Having come to Rio 2016 with the aim of swimming faster than he has ever done before, Refugee Olympic Team swimmer Rami Anis did just that on 9 August, clocking a personal best in the men's 100m freestyle to earn a standing ovation from the crowd at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Rather, we're looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating. And at a time when the scariest aspects of nationalism are too apparent in the United States and elsewhere, a reminder that we are all human, regardless of whether or not we have a flag or an anthem, is crucial. And when they entered, the emotion was unlimited.
Anis is one of ten athletes on the Refugee Olympic team, each of whom have their own horror story. It was positive. It emphasized achievement. Nobody really expects them to win any medals in the Rio Olympics. There are hundreds of thousands like them all over the world who have fled persecution, war and hunger in search of a safe and secured life, each carrying a unique and compelling story. He runs next Tuesday.
Half the team's 10 athletes have passed through the Kakuma camp or were living there at their time of selection.
He said he hoped there would be no refugee team in Tokyo because he hoped for all wars to end and athletes to be able to compete under the name of their home country. Then it happened that some of us, we ran without shoe.
"But first of all, let me finish this running thing", he says.
10 of these refugees have been selected by the International Olympic Committee to represent a Refugees Olympic Team. So, for them to step up to those technical levels would be hard.
Who is he? Yonas left Ethiopia due to political problems and has been living in Luxembourg since 2013. Though he lost to world champion, Gwak Dong-han of South Korea in Round 16, his performance acted as a symbol of hope for fellow refugees around the world.
Asked in the video if he would take the orange and black flag to Rio, Refugee Team judoka Popole Misenga had no doubt.
"I told him, 'This is the beginning of my journey. My people will see me on the television, on Facebook". It's been such a long time.
Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, South Sudan, 21 years old, competes in the 1,500-meter run.
The Olympic host nation, a land of immigrants, has welcomed many recent asylum-seekers. As of 2013, almost half of the world's refugee population was under 18 years old according to the UNHCR.
Sports can be a respite for people in refugee communities.
Refugees, each refugee is an individual with a profoundly hard personal history. Perhaps people watching the Olympics will apply that message to refugees around the world who want to either return home or find a permanent home elsewhere. And we forget that each one of them is a person with a history that needs to be addressed individually as well.
I'm Jeffrey Brown for the "PBS NewsHour".
The trip to Rio brought other firsts.