Yemen battling all odds to end 29-year wait

Para athletes find ways to train amidst wide-spread destruction 22 Jul 2021
 Yemen's Para athlete Naseb Fateh Mohammed Al Raoad
FIGHTING SPIRIT: Yemen's Para athlete Naseb Fateh Mohammed Al Raoad , who will be competing in the men’s F57 discus throw is seen during a training session inside a compound.
ⒸYemen NPC
By Priyanka Sharma (Asian Paralympic Committee) | For the IPC

After a 29-year sabbatical, Yemen, the West Asian country will be making their much-awaited comeback to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The Para athletes from a country that is ravaged by civil war since 2014, believe these Games would give ‘hope’ to people with disabilities in the country and help develop sport activities across Yemen.

Yemen last participated at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, with three athletes, which was also their debut Games.

At the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Yemen will field two Para athletes - Belqes Ahmed Hezam Taresh in women's F57 class and Naseb Fateh Mohammed Al Raoad in men’s F57 class.

Chef de Mission Amal Haza Ali Munassar was hopeful that Yemen’s participation at the Paralympic Games will play an important role in reviving Para sport in the country.

“We are proud to be a part of the Paralympic Games and we believe our participation will be exceptional because of Yemen's situation in light of the war that destroyed the infrastructure of stadiums in the country.

TREMENDOUS ZEAL: Yemen's Para athletes Naseb Fateh Mohammed Al Raoad (C) with Belqes Ahmed Hezam Taresh (L) after a training session in a compound ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

We look forward that this participation will provide us hope and opportunity for wider activities for athletes with disabilities in Yemen and to achieve sporting achievements for our country.”

With most stadiums and sports facilities destroyed by the war, it was a challenge for the athletes to train for a long time. But their excitement knew no bounds after they were granted Tokyo berth.

Both the Para athletes, who were granted wildcards by the International Paralympic Committee, would be aiming to make a mark on their Games debut and hope to inspire many upcoming Para athletes from the nation. In March, earlier this year, both the athletes had participated at the Tunis 2021 GP and their participation was sponsored by the IPC Membership Programmes.

“We encountered a lot of obstacles during training for the lack of special places to practice sports because of the destruction of most sports halls in Yemen. However, we are very pleased to be involved with this great event (Tokyo Paralympic Games) and proud to represent our country Yemen,” said Al Raoad, eager to make his presence in Tokyo.

The Tokyo 2020 participation will surely be historic not just for the two Para athletes but for the entire disabled community in Yemen hoping Para sports would be a ray of hope in their lives, added Al Raoad.