To rousing cheers and a standing ovation, two para-athletes who faced the additional challenge of being displaced from their homeland made history this week leading the parade of athletes at the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 @paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Proudly carrying the flag of the International Paralympic Committee before him, Syrian Swimmer Ibrahim Al-Hussein walked into the famed Maracanã Stadium at the head of the first-ever Independent Paralympic Athletes Team.
Ibrahim competed at local and national swim meets in a career cut short five years ago by the outbreak of war.
After losing the lower part of his right leg in a bomb blast in 2013, he fled to Turkey where he spent much of the next year learning to walk again. In 2014, he boarded an inflatable boat to Greece, where he resumed competitive swimming. “I’m really happy and proud to be the flagbearer. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Before the war in Syria, I dreamt about participating in the Olympics … After what happened and after my injury, I kept going and now I’m in the #Paralympics. I kept my dream,” said Ibrahim.
We wish Ibrahim and his teammates the best of luck!