Blog | Mardini Sisters And Eriksen: Two Stories That Prove Miracles Happen, All The Time

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Exactly three years ago, The Guardian published a story with this headline: "The day Denmark stood still: Christian Eriksen's collapse and the heroes who saved him." 

On June 12, 2021, Denmark faced Finland in a match in the 2020 Euro tournament. In the 43rd minute, the world witnessed a shock as Denmark's midfielder collapsed on the pitch for reasons then unknown. Realising something was terribly wrong, fellow players rushed to ensure that his airway remained open. The team doctor feared the worst - Eriksen had suffered a heart attack on the pitch.
He lay on the pitch for a tense 13 minutes before somehow regaining consciousness on the way to the nearby hospital. Reportedly, one of his first requests after regaining consciousness was to have his boots removed, as he believed he might never need them again.

Exactly three years later, on June 16, Christian Eriksen returned to play in the ongoing edition of the Euro Football tournament, donning the national jersey once more. In the 17th minute, a miracle happened as Eriksen scored the first goal for his team, reportedly wearing the same boots from that fateful day. It was like a fairytale we expect to happen all the time.

If this isn't a miracle, what is? These are the moments that give us hope, showing that bouncing back from the brink is always possible.

Hoping Through Dark Times

I felt the same sense of awe while watching the Netflix movie The Swimmers, based on the true story of two Syrian girls, Yusra Mardini and her elder sister, Sara Mardini. Residents of Damascus, the sisters dreamt of representing their country in the Olympics. But Syria's civil war made it nearly impossible. Their push came when a bomb hit a venue where they were competing in a swimming competition. With no choice but to seek asylum as refugees in Germany, they embarked on a daunting journey without knowing how to reach their destination.

Undeterred by the challenges ahead, the sisters, along with a relative, embarked on a journey as nerve-wracking as it could be. While their flight to Turkey was smooth, what followed tested even the toughest nerves. Local guides facilitating illegal migration suggested they take a boat to Greece, the shortest route to mainland Europe. During the perilous sea crossing from Turkey, their dinghy's engine failed. The sisters were among those who jumped into the water, guiding the overcrowded boat to safety and saving all on board, as documented in a Time article.   

Just imagine: two little girls in an overcrowded dinghy on the verge of sinking in the middle of the sea. Darkness surrounded them, with no clue how far the shore lay. Who could muster the courage to jump into the sea, swim for three and a half hours, and guide the boat to safety? Most would have fainted. But not the Mardini sisters. They were fully aware that reaching shore didn't guarantee safety; as illegal refugees, they risked detention at any moment. Yet, driven by their Olympic dreams, they endured all and were prepared to face more.

Their long and arduous journey eventually led them to Germany. As they say, the rest is history. Within a year of arriving in Germany, Yusra, the younger and the more passionate one about swimming, qualified for the Rio Olympics as part of the refugee team. Now retired, she serves as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and will be in Paris, cheering on refugees from around the world when the city hosts the Summer Olympics.

What do the stories of Eriksen and Yusra have in common? Perhaps it's the determination to succeed against all odds. They possessed strength of character and found their way through the most challenging circumstances.

In my own experience, when faced with adversity, saviours often emerge from unexpected places. For Yusra, it was a German swimming coach who helped her realise her Olympic dream. For Eriksen, it was the immediate support from his teammates.

Throughout my life, I've had many saviours who helped me navigate difficult times. My humble advice to all of you is to never give up. Keep moving forward. Miracles do happen - and they happen all the time.

(Mayank Mishra is Consulting Editor at NDTV)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author