UP CLOSE: From a Silent World to the World Games
Volunteer blogger Liz Beneski meets an athlete and mother who only found about the Special Olympics movement just over three months ago. It’s safe to say, it has changed their life for good.
I would like to share the story of Special Olympics UAE gymnast Ahmed Tariq Elhassan.
Ahmed, 19, does not speak. Severely autistic, Ahmed has lived in a world where what he enjoys most is running, dancing, and “coloring outside the lines.” His devoted mother, Nahid, has spent years trying to find a way to break-through Ahmed’s silent world. Nahid read about Special Olympics a few months ago, and started her research. Despite her years of investment in treatment for Ahmed, she knew there could be better results, as “nothing was working.”
Nahid contacted the Special Olympics UAE office, and determinedly found a way to get Ahmed involved. Through relentless effort, she was able to enroll Ahmed into gymnastics with Fit Republic - regardless of the fact that Ahmed had never taken part in sport before.
Three months later, we are honored to see Ahmed proudly represent the UAE Special Olympics team in gymnastics vaulting. Prior to his seemingly new training routine, Nahid says that Ahmed “would never sit still” and “could not walk a straight line, let alone run down a mat and jump.”
Fast forward to the first day of competition at the World Games. Mother Nahid sits in the stands, excitedly and proudly watching her son sit calmly waiting for his turn on the vault. She is overjoyed, but chooses to keep her evident delight silent - for fear of exciting him and overwhelming his performance.
Ahmed is lovingly calmed by his younger brother just before he takes his position, and Ahmed, when called upon, runs his straight line down the mat and jumps the vault as he learned to do just three months ago.
Nahid now is literally spinning with excitement, and when the scores post, proudly proclaims that “scores don’t matter, we have already won - Ahmed’s life is changed, and I have his gold medal in my purse for him already - he is a winner no matter what.” Nahid knows her son is “flying high and dreaming about the future” as she proudly recalls that picture perfect moment.
Nahid is now on a mission to tell all parents of the determined about the Special Olympics and the Inclusion Revolution - a movement she stumbled across in a newspaper. She recognizes the power of individual human triumph, and wants the world to know there are resources such as the Special Olympics to empower, encourage and embrace the determined.
Find Ahmed’s results