Maldives hope to drive Paralympic Movement with Tokyo 2020 debut
'These Games are very special to us. It will help promote equal opportunities for people with disability in the country and also help our Para athletes showcase their talent internationally.'18 Aug 2021
READY FOR BIG STAGE: Fatimah Ibrahim
By Priyanka Sharma (Asian Paralympic Committee) | For the IPC
Maldives, the small archipelagic state in the Indian subcontinent, are eagerly awaiting to be part of their first-ever Paralympic Games in Tokyo with a hope to promote ‘equality’ in the country and ‘create opportunities’ for the Para athletes internationally.
At the Tokyo 2020 Games, the island nation will be represented by two athletes in Para athletics - Mohamed Mazin (men’s 100m T11) and Fathimath Ibrahim (women’s 100m T11). Both the athletes were granted wildcards by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Maldives Chef de Mission Ahmed Mohamed highlighted the importance of these Games to their athletes and the National Paralympic Committee.
“These Games are very special to us. It will help promote equal opportunities for people with disability in the country and also help our Para athletes showcase their talent internationally.
“The training was set on regular basis but two lockdowns for a period of three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced the athletes to stay indoors. While the training was not up to our expectations, we hope our athletes will do their best and make a mark on their debut Paralympic Games,” said Mohamed.
Mazin made a dream debut at Maldives’ first Para sport event when he claimed bronze in the men’s 100m T11 event at the Indian Ocean Island Games 2019.
Mazin, who started his journey in Para athletics in 2011, went on to participate at the Fazza Dubai 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix along with his teammate Ibrahim in February 2021. The Dubai 2021 was the first international event for Maldives and their athletes.
“I am very excited and honoured to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. This is a great opportunity for us and we will use it to the maximum. Our preparations for the Games are going well though there have been hard times due to the situation. My dream is to win a Paralympic medal and I will try my best. But my first target is to make the second round, then third round and so on…and if I make it to the finals, I will aim for a medal for Maldives,” said vision impaired Para athlete Mazin.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim, who is also thrilled to be part of the Games, said: “I want to work hard and get medals for my country. I want to cut the barrier for the women in the country and I hope more people join us in the Paralympic Movement. I would like to tell the women in my country ‘please come and join us and this is a great opportunity to show your talent’.
“My motto is ‘I will do, I can do’ towards everything I face and tackle. And I don’t plan on backing off, even in the slightest,” said Ibrahim, who has been volunteering with the Maldivian Red Crescent for the past 10 years.
PARALYMPIC MOVEMENT IN MALDIVES
Maldives, one of the newest National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in the IPC family, having granted membership at the 2019 IPC General Assembly in Bonn, Germany, has seen gradual development of the Paralympic Movement in the country.
The Maldives Paralympic Committee has seemingly been on fast-forward throughout 2020. They wasted no time in providing as many opportunities as possible for their athletes to get going. Even during the pandemic, the NPC has set up camps, educational and awareness programmes for its Para athletes.
Mohamed, who is also the secretary general of NPC Maldives , said the organisation has started to register Para athletes and as of now have six athletes registered so far with classification.
“With the support of government, NPC Maldives provided the Para athletes with coaches, training facilities, training kits, travel kits, stipend and travel fare, etc.”
He summed up saying that the NPC’s main programme will begin after the Tokyo 2020 with the I’mPOSSIBLE project in collaboration with IPC and Asian Paralympic Committee to identify and register Para athletes across the country.