As the Summer Paralympic Games are just over a year away, athletes from around the world will be training in earnest to take up their places in national teams and compete with the best in the world.
Among them is Emirati cyclist, Abdullah Salem al Blooshi.
He began cycling at the age of 12 at Al Ahli Club in 2004 and went on to win his first team medal just a year later.
Fast-forward two years and Al Blooshi was representing the UAE in the national team.
This meteoric rise to success continued with many international achievements.
He bagged a bronze medal in the team time trial at the 2009 Arabian Championship and became the first Emirati in the peloton in the Asian Championship, held in the UAE the same year.
By 2010, the Emirati youngster moved up into the elite category and seemed on course for stardom in the cycling world.
However, just two years later, then 20-year-old Al Blooshi suffered a devastating injury during training.
A collision with a road sign at high speed, which resulted in his right arm sustaining major damage that has proven to be life-changing.
Since then, Al Blooshi has undergone over 30 surgeries in the UAE and with specialists in Germany, but has not regained the use of his right arm.
For many, an injury like this would discourage them from continuing with the sport and put an end to dreams of international achievement, but the Emirati cyclist persevered.
At first, it was purely the love of the sport that got him to continue but after being encouraged by his friend and now coach, Mohammed Al Murawwi, Al Blooshi entered the racing arena again.
His first race was the Nad al Sheba race, in the determination category, where he took first place.
Since then, Al Blooshi has raced in Paralympic competitions all over the world, and is part of the UAE Paralympic National team.
Personal trainer, Joe Watters, who has seen Al Blooshi’s determination and resilience firsthand, is so moved by his story that he is keen to share it with the wider audience so it can inspire others who have endured a similar ordeal as him.
“Not many people could come back from an injury so severe, it’s a challenge mentally as much as physically,” said Joe Watters.
He further added, “Abdullah hasn’t let it stop him from training hard and believing in himself, and it’s shown in his achievements since the accident. Hopefully this will inspire others and show people that, if you have the motivation, you can triumph over adversity”.
Abdullah’s most recent achievement came in the form of a bronze medal at the Asian Championship in Uzbekistan in April, and he has many more races to come as he works towards the Paralympic Games in August 2020.
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