Fatema Nedham calls Rio gold ‘priceless prize’

Bahrain’s first female Paralympic gold medallist reflects on her historic achievement. 04 Nov 2016
Fatema Nedham of Bahrain

Flag bearer Fatema Nedham of Bahrain leads the team entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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Fatema Nedham not only became Bahrain’s first female Paralympic medallist, but also their first female gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

There was no secret equation to her historic achievement, Nedham explained.

“The development of plans and support the camps were key to my success, and I continued to exercise and pay attention to the advice of my coach,” said Nedham, who won the women’s short put F53. She owns one of Bahrain’s two Paralympic gold medals, the other coming from Seoul 1988.

Nedham, 49, made two Paralympic appearances prior to Rio 2016 but was far from the podium at both. She also had a disappointing showing at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar. But previous successes, such as her silver at the 2014 Asian Para Games and a victory at the 2016 IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai, United Arab Emirates gave her confidence heading into Rio.

“Yes, I expected to win gold at Rio because I was ranked first globally in terms of the arrangement,” she said.

“I am very pleased with my gold because a Paralympic medal is the highest achievement and it is a priceless prize,” Nedham added.

She began playing sports in 2006 and a coach suggested she could be suited to shot put.

Growing up in Bahrain, Nedham said she faced no difficulties practicing sports. Nedham and fellow athletics teammate Rooba Alomari, 25, were the only athletes to represent Bahrain at Rio.

“Bahrain is very interested in the sports especially in Alemraep. They are proactive in this area as well and always seeking to get females engaged in all sports, and for women with disabilities they ensure they have the right to participate. Also there is a committee for women's sports at the National Paralympic Committee [NPC] of Bahrain,” Nedham said.

Since returning home from winning her country’s first women’s Paralympic medal, Nedham said there has been a change in pace and expects to use this as a springboard for future competitions.

“The achievement of this should continue in the coming tournaments and at a more evolved level than before,” she said.

It is not only her who is gearing up for more medals.

“A training plan has been developed by our trainers starting from the Championships [Gulf Corporation Council] GCC countries to participate in the FAZZAA IPC Athletics Grand Prix, and then springboard them to the 2017 World Championships in London, [Great Britain] and then into Tokyo 2020,” Nedham said.