DUBAI // Mohammed Al Hammadi, the Emirati athlete who won silver and bronze at the London Paralympics, had some worthy advice for pupils yesterday.
Al Hammadi, who won silver in the men's 200-metre wheelchair race and bronze in the 100m, appeared on stage during an assembly at Victoria International School of Sharjah yesterday.
"I wanted to tell them to make the best use of the resources they've been given," he said. "If they want to achieve anything, they need to be organised and on task.
"If any of them want to become athletes then I'd also like to encourage them."
Although Al Hammadi regrets not bringing back gold, he said was glad about his achievements.
He told pupils of his training programme, which involves waking up at 4am every day to race 21 kilometres … but not for the next couple of months.
He will take it easy until December, when he begins preparations for the world championships next July in France.
The break offers him a welcome respite from his coach, a Thai national he calls "Captain Support".
"During the Olympics he was with me 24 hours," Al Hammadi said. "He wanted to sleep in the same room as me so he could check when I was going to bed and waking up. He wanted to have lunch with me so he could see what I was eating."
But after his races were done, he rebelled against Captain Support's orders by eating biriyani each night.
Al Hammadi, 27, from Sharjah, said he had become quite famous around Sharjah TV, where he works in human relations.
Nachwa Elaina, 11, from Morocco, learnt about Al Hammadi in class before the assembly and decided to ask him a question about the Paralympics.
"I liked what he was doing," she said. "I didn't know him before but when I learnt about him, he was inspiring. He showed me to never give up and to keep on being persistent."
The principal of the school, Dr Roderick Crouch, said that was the message he had hoped the schoolchildren would take home.
"We hoped the children would be inspired to realise they can achieve anything," Dr Crouch said. "Our school hopes to develop the minds and heart of children.
"We want them to know they've got potential, and that it can be realised. If you put in the time and the effort, look what you can do."