Obama then opened his remarks by thanking Mardini, who swam the 100m butterfly (VIDEO) and 100m freestyle in Rio.
“Yusra, we could not be prouder of you — not just for the great introduction, but more importantly, for your courage and your resilience and the great example that you’re setting for children everywhere, including your eight-year-old sister, who I know must look up to you,” Obama said in his speech (TRANSCRIPT).
Obama is expected to host members of the U.S. Olympic Team next week at the White House.
Mardini’s story was depicted in an emotional Visa ad during the Olympics. While escaping the violence of the Syrian war in 2015, the engine in Mardini’s boat died and she had to jump into the water to help pull her fellow refugees to safety.
“I want to help change people’s perceptions of what a refugee is,” she said in her speech. “For everyone to understand it is not a choice to flee from your home. Refugees are normal people who can achieve great things if given the opportunity.”
No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland is favored to claim a third French Open title, a year after beating American Coco Gauff in the final. She bids to join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win the French Open three or more times since 2000.
Two Americans are ranked in the top six in the world — No. 3 Jessica Pegula and Gauff.
The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.