Thuraya Al Zaabi reflects on how para-athletics changed her life in the fourth instalment of the “My Incredible Story” films
20 October 2015 – Doha, Qatar: With one day to go until the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships athletes from around the world have begun arriving in Doha. The UAE’s own Thuraya al-Zaabi, the first female to represent the United Arab Emirates at a Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008, is to compete in the World Championships, which will be held from 21st -31st October 2015 in Qatar Sports Club.
Al-Zaabi is also the subject of the penultimate film in the “My Incredible Story” series, which was launched by the Doha 2015 Organising Committee to showcase the incredible obstacles, challenges and journeys of some of the world’s greatest para-athletes in order to raise awareness about para-sport and people with a disability, helping to break down barriers and change perceptions. Thuraya’s film follows three further inspirational para-athletes, Terezinha Guilhermina, Jarryd Wallace and Giusy Versace.
Doha will also be making history this week when it hosts the largest para-sport event ever to come to the Middle East. 1,300 of the world’s best para-athletes from over 100 countries will be competing at Qatar Sports Club from 21-31 October and hoping to secure a qualifying spot for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Speaking about Thuraya’s support for the campaign, His Excellency Dr Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, President of the Local Organising Committee and Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said:
“Thuraya al Zaabi is an excellent role model for young females across our region and we are very grateful to have her support for this campaign. We hope that her story will empower people everywhere to see that anything is possible whatever your circumstance. Thuraya will be joined by many other incredible athletes from across the Middle East and around the world who will inspire and amaze spectators at the IPC Athletics Championships next week. We encourage everyone to get their tickets now and come down and witness the incredible world of para-sport first-hand.”
Thuraya took up para-athletics following a stroke at the age of 29, which paralysed her down the left side of her body. Despite finding the sport difficult at first, she persevered and went on to compete in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games, becoming the first Emirati woman to participate in a Paralympic Games.
Speaking in her film, she said:
“It was my physical situation that led me to take up para-athletics. It is very difficult and requires greater effort but that shouldn’t stop us from riding this wave and demonstrating that para-athletes can overcome their disability, excel and take para-athletics to a higher level. Sport to me is hope. It is giving. It renewed my weak muscles and also moved me from a state of reclusiveness and depression to a state of hope, determination and a perpetual smile.”
Thuraya will be competing in the javelin and shot put F32-34 events at the IPC Athletics World Championships and you can witness her in action on the evenings of 28th and 29th October. She encourages everyone to come down and support her and her fellow athletes as they battle to become best in the world:
“The Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships will be beyond incredible. I call on everyone not to lose out and come to Qatar Sports Club to see the various athletes and their incredible abilities – regardless of their impairments. This is a clear indication that para-athletes are capable and not in any way disabled - and that they are able to represent their countries. With all of my love and respect, get your tickets to the Doha 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships - we’re waiting for you.”
Thuraya al Zaabi will be joined by a host of talented athletes from across the region at the World Championships, who will be looking to give the performance of their lives in front of a crowd full of supportive fans. These include Qatar’s very own world-record holder, Abdelrahman Abdelqader, who will be hoping to become his nation’s first-ever para-athletics World Champion on the evening of 26th October; Walid Ktila of Tunisia who is a double Paralympic Champion and won four golds at the last World Championships in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m T34 events; and Moroccan athlete, El Amin Chentouf, who will be aiming to add to his two gold medals from the last World Championships when he goes for gold in the 5000m and 1000m T12 event in Doha.