AGE 17 | Egypt
Ali is a Pro Fencing Athlete in Egypt. He took a liking to the sport when he began water therapy as a younger boy. He is a vocal advocate of the differently abled and competes competitively and hopes to raise awareness.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, where did you see yourself when you were younger and where you see yourself in the future?
Since I started playing sports, I always had a goal to reach the World Championships, and to prove to others that an individual with disability is capable of doing anything and is not less of a person. I also wanted to change others views and how they can look at us. My dream is to earn Olympic medals and to prove to others that I can do anything.
When did you start playing sports?
Initially I was not an athlete and everything developed by accident while I was going through water treatment in physical therapy. At that time I liked it and the coach asked me if I would like to practice swimming. It was from that moment that I started my journey with sports.
"It was a challenge for me to change people’s perceptions toward the disabled athlete."
Why did you want to start playing sports?
It was sort of an accident that happened while I was doing Water Therapy. I discovered that I loved it and it was then that I started playing sports.
What was your biggest challenge to get into the sport?
What was your biggest challenge to get into the sport? At the beginning it was difficult to practice because the idea of being a disabled individual and practicing sports didn’t even exist. It was a challenge for me to change people’s perceptions toward the disabled athlete. Then I started to face several other challenges i.e. How can I only use my hands? How people will react? ًWhen I used to tell people what I was planning to do, they used to make fun of me. This only gave me more determination to prove to them that I have a dream and I will make it come true.
How did you overcome that challenge?
I overcome the challenges by practicing, going through championships, and being present, which in and of itself is a challenge.
How has your participation in the sport affected you as a person?
It helped me break through my fear of water that I had inside me and being able to compete. I thought I would be able to do a lot of things and end by staying home because of disability, I learned the meaning of challenge and I was able to challenge anything that comes in my way.
If there was one thing you could change in the sport or people’s perception what would it be?
People think that disabled individuals should be staying home. My goal is to talk to people about sports and explain to them how much we can achieve and reverse ideas they developed.
"My goal is to talk to people about sports and explain to them how much we can achieve and reverse ideas they developed."