Inspirational Paralympian swimmer Sümeyye Boyacı honoured as Barbie doll

The achievements of Turkish swimming champion Sümeyye Boyacı is being celebrated with a doll made in her likeness.

European and World Series 50m backstroke champion Boyacı is one of several sportswomen from around the world to be honoured by popular toy brand Barbie.

Others in the new series of ‘Shero’ dolls include British World Champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, Amandine Henry, France’s soccer captain, Japanese surfing sensation Shino Matsuda, and Olga Kharlan, Ukrainian world champion sabre fencer.

Writing on her Instagram page, Sümeyye Boyacı said: “Bigger than I could ever imagine, being part of such a meaningful project makes me so happy…”.

Released for International Women’s Day on 8 March, the new Barbie dolls maintain producer Mattel’s commitment to making its dolls more representative. In a statement on its website, the toymaker said:

“Barbie is committed to shining a light on empowering role models past and present in an effort to inspire more girls. As a key part of our ongoing global initiative, the Dream Gap Project, we’re introducing girls to women’s stories from all walks of life to show them they can be anything. #MoreRoleModels”

Mattel started to diversify its Barbie range five years ago by producing dolls with a greater variation of skin tones, eye colours and hairstyles. In 2016, it introduced curvy and petite Barbies, followed by the first Barbie to wear a hijab, a doll with a prosthetic leg, and another that has a wheelchair.

At the start of this year, Barbie released a further new designs including a doll with no hair and one with the skin condition vitiligo.

Sümeyye Boyacı among new Barbie Shero dolls celebrating sportswomen, released for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020


Born without arms and suffering from a hip dislocation from birth, 17-year-old Sümeyye Boyacı has becoming a national treasure by rising above her disabilities to become an international sports champion and artist.

In an interview last year with broadcaster TRT Sport, Boyacı said: “I have no arms, but I have two wings: One is my mother and the other is my passion for life.”

After coming second in 50m Backtroke S5 category in London during the 2019 London World Paralympic Swimming Championships, the ambitious teenager told press:

“For now, I took the silver medal and carried our flag to the podium. I have a long way ahead of me. I will ensure our National Anthem is played in the big championships. ”

About Sümeyye Boyacı

Barbie makers Mattel had this to say about Sümeyye Boyacı on its page of sporting role models:

“Sümeyye Boyacı (born February 5, 2003) is a Turkish female Paralympic swimmer. She competes in the disability category of S5 in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, specializing in sprint events. She has no arms (bilateral congenital upper extremity agenesis) and a hip dislocation as a birth defect. In 2019, she captured the gold medal in the 50 m Backstroke S5 event at the World Para Swimming World Series held in Indianapolis, USA with a time of 45.28. At the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London, U.K., she won the silver medal in the 50 m backstroke S5 event with a time of 44.74.

“At the age of four and half, she began painting with her foot. She made a painting for Altın Balık (‘The Golden Fish’), the Turkish translation of the Russian book of tale (Russian: Cказка о рыбаке и рыбке) by Alexander Pushkin. In April 2009, her watercolor paintings were on display in a personal exhibition in Moscow, Russia and gifted one of her paintings to the First Lady of Russia Svetlana Medvedeva. In 2014, she participated at an exhibition in Eskişehir for traditional Turkish handicrafts with her paper marblings. She is currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”