Mohamed Allek knows what it is like to stand atop the podium with the feeling of having fulfilled your dreams.
Now, the three-time Paralympic gold medallist from Algeria is moving to the other side of Paralympic Sport, as he will be coaching his home country’s Athletics delegation at next month’s All-Africa Games.
A total of 6,500 athletes from 48 nations will be competing in the All-Africa Games in Mozambique from 3-18 September, and while most of them will be able-bodied athletes, several of those in Athletics will also be para-athletes.
Allek, who is missing an arm and a leg himself, said he is preparing 21 athletes with a disability for the event through one-on-one daily training sessions.
“I was an athlete for 20 years before, so I know how to train because I was there before,” said the coach, who won gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m T37 races at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.
On Saturday (13 August), Allek is taking several of his athletes to France for specific technical training sessions to prepare for Mozambique, where he said Egypt and Tunisia will pose the toughest threats on the track.
Allek admitted that it is not always as easy for African countries to prepare for competitions as it is for say, Great Britain or the United States, because they are not equipped with as many resources or funds.
However, this year, the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Algeria has provided Allek’s athletes with sufficient funds to prepare for the All-Africa Games.
“The Youth and Sports Ministry gives the money to the federation and the federation decides, together with the trainers, what happens with the money – if it goes for training sessions or equipment – and defines a programme on how to spend it,” Allek said.
Algeria returned from January’s 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, with eight gold and 21 total medals, and so Allek is hoping it can build off that performance in Mozambique and then again in London at next summer’s Paralympic Games.
“I hope we bring more medals from London than from Beijing. In Beijing, we won eight golds, but we hope to have more in London,” Allek said.
“For London, we have 30 athletes qualified, but I hope that other athletes qualify after the All-Africa Games.”