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Ibrahim Al Hussein

Ibrahim Al Hussein

Refugee Para(lympic) Team
Swimming

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
S9, SB8, SM9

Further personal information

Residence
Athens, GRE
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
Arabic, Greek

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He began swimming at age five in the Euphrates river in Dayr az Zawr, Syrian Arab Republic.
Why this sport?
His father, who was a swimming coach, got him involved in the sport. He initially stopped swimming after his accident, but returned to the sport as he tried to rebuild his life. "I saw it as a way out of my depression. When I am training, I stop thinking that I have an impairment and it feels like before. It is difficult to go from able-bodied to Para swimming, but no matter what happens in your life, you need to keep doing the things you love."
Club / Team
Protoporoi: Greece
Name of coach
Alexandros Tsoltos [personal], GRE, from 2017
Training Regime
He swims seven days a week.

International debut

Year
2016

General interest

Hobbies
Wheelchair basketball, handicrafts. (Athlete, 01 Sep 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Competing at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (Athlete, 01 Sep 2019)
Most influential person in career
His father and his coach. (Athlete, 01 Sep 2019)
Hero / Idol
US swimmer Michael Phelps. (Athlete, 05 Dec 2017)
Injuries
Prior to 2012 he fell off a building while working and needed pins in his left ankle. (Athlete, 05 Sep 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I cannot imagine my life without sport. I can stop eating but I cannot stop having sport in my life. It is what keeps me going on." (paralympic.org, 29 Nov 2016)
Awards and honours
He received the 2016 Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award from the United States Sports Academy. The honour is given to athlete showing courage and dedication to their sport in the face of incredible odds. (aroundtherings.com, 03 Jul 2017)

He was presented with the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The honour is presented to the athlete who has performed at an outstanding level and overcome adversity. (swimmingworldmagazine.com, 15 Sep 2016)

He was flag bearer for the Independent Paralympic Athletes at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (myinfo.rio2016.com, 07 Sep 2016)

He carried the Olympic torch through a refugee camp in Athens, Greece, during the torch relay ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (reuters.com, 26 Apr 2016)
Other sports
He has played wheelchair basketball for a club in Maroussi, Greece. (tracks.unhcr.org, 22 Apr 2016)
Famous relatives
His father has coached swimming and judo in the Syrian Arab Republic. (myinfo.rio2016.com, 07 Sep 2016)
Ambitions
To win a medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (paralympic.org, 27 Aug 2018)
Impairment
In the Syrian Arab Republic in 2012, he was trying to help a friend who had been injured during a bombing attack when he was hit by the blast of another bomb. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee. (Athlete, 05 Sep 2016; rio2016.com, 22 Apr 2016)
Other information
LOSING HIS LEG
In 2012 he lost his right leg while attempting to help a friend who had been injured during a bombing attack in the Syrian Arab Republic. Despite his injuries, he says he has no regrets over his actions. "I knew the risk that I might not be coming back home alive. But I told myself, 'I have to go, because if something happens to him and I have done nothing I cannot live anyway with this thought in my mind'. We were walking towards an intersection when a tank shell exploded in front of us. Every single one of us lost something. I lost my right leg, and I also needed metal plates in my left leg, my nose and my left eye socket. One of my friends lost a leg, one of them his right hand, everybody was a casualty. After the accident there was a period when I was very down but after that I realised that I cannot continue like this. I told myself that I don't want to stop doing what I was doing before the accident. I was a little bit depressed and sad about losing my leg, but my friend survived and now has three children. He is happy right now and I can live because of that." (paralympic.org, 22 Jan 2020)

FROM SYRIA TO GREECE
He grew up in the Syrian Arab Republic with 13 siblings. In 2014 he fled the war in his birth country, travelling first to Turkey before settling in Greece, where he was granted asylum. "It was very difficult in the beginning in Greece because I didn't speak the language and I had nobody but eventually I found a doctor in Athens who helped me. He is like a brother to me. The leg would normally cost 12,000 Euros but he made it, did not charge me for it and any maintenance is free. After that I said, 'This is the place where I would like to live'. I'm happy in Greece. I even learned to speak Greek because I love the country and the people so much." (reuters.com, 26 Apr 2016; tracks.unhcr.org, 22 Apr 2016; paralympic.org, 22 Jan 2020)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m Freestyle S9 Heat 1 2016-09-12 7
Men's 50 m Freestyle S9 Heat 1 2016-09-13 6
Mexico City 2017 World Para Swimming Championships (Mexico City, Mexico)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m Backstroke S9 Heat 1 2017-12-02 9999
Men's 100 m Freestyle S9 Heat 2 2017-12-04 11
Men's 50 m Freestyle S9 Heat 2 2017-12-07 12