Gaza’s Paralympians: Defeating All Odds
Photo Blog by Ruqaya Izzidien
Palestinians in Gaza are pinning their hopes on their two Paralympic heroes, Khamis Zakout, 47, and Muhammad Fanouna, 32.
Zakout is competing in the discus, javelin and shot put events, while Fanouna will compete in the long-jump, javelin and 200m sprint. The pair are heading to this year’s Paralympic Games - for athletes with disabilities - in London, with the hope of bringing back a coveted medal.
But Fanouna thinks this aspiration may be a little unrealistic. “We get no support. I’m a 200m sprinter and I have no track, and I practice my long-jump on a homemade sandpit surrounded by concrete.”
Fanouna won first place in the long-jump in the Asian Games seven months ago, and received the bronze medal in the Athens Paralympics in 2004. He said that although he is aiming for gold, like all athletes at the London Games, even a bronze would be an achievement, “if you take into account the siege we are under which prevents us from acquiring the right tools, training and tracks.”
The Israeli government forbade Khamis Zakout from travelling to a 100-day Olympic countdown event in Jerusalem held by the British Consulate. Zakout said, “Our success, despite the restrictions and obstacles we face, proves that, against all odds, you can achieve anything with determination. It also shows that a disability is not only not the end of your life and mobility, but it can be a path to greatness.”