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Yusra Mardini among 10 picked by IOC to form refugee team for Rio

A Syrian refugee who last year was forced to swim for her life trying to reach Greece says she's overjoyed to be picked to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Yusra Mardini was among 10 athletes named on Friday by the International Olympic Committee to form a refugee team at the Rio Games.

"These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word," IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement. "The Olympic anthem will be played in their honour and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium.

"This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. 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."

The other athletes named to the refugee team include runners Yiech Pur Biel (800 meters), James Nyang Chiengjiek (400 meters), Yonas Kinde (marathon), Anjelina Nada Lohalith (1,500 meters), Rose Nathike Lokonyen (800 meters), Paulo Amotun Lokoro (1,500 meters), judo competitors Yolande Bukasa Mabika (70 kg) and Popole Misenga (90 kg) and swimmer Rami Anis.

The 18-year-old Mardini said she was at home when the news arrived.

"I can't describe how happy I am," she told The Associated Press by phone from Berlin shortly after the announcement. "I almost cried."

Mardini said she's trying to stay realistic about her medal chances in Rio and aiming for a personal best.

"But I hope more for Tokyo" in 2020, she said.

Mardini and her older sister Sarah arrived in Germany as refugees a year ago after a journey that included swimming alongside their boat partway from Turkey to Greece because it was taking on water.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.