x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mohammed Hammadi says he 'can't describe my feelings'

The wheelchair Paralympian is ecstatic over winning silver but is pushing that out of his mind as he prepares for his final events, where he hopes to continue to mine for medals.

Mohamed Hammadi started his Tuesday with a Paralympic record and finished it with a silver medal.
Mohamed Hammadi started his Tuesday with a Paralympic record and finished it with a silver medal.

Mohammed Hammadi will never forget the thrill of capturing a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games on Tuesday, but the Emirati wheelchair athlete already is looking ahead to his next event: the 100-metre dash on Saturday.

"It was a great day for the UAE with Abdullah [Sultan Al Aryani's] gold medal and the silver I won," said Hammadi, 27.

"We received congratulatory messages from the President Sheikh Khalifa [bin Zayed], the Vice President Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid, the Ruler of Dubai] and several others.

"It was a great feeling to be greeted personally.

"For me, I got very emotional when I was on the podium. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before.

"This is my first Paralympics and I can't describe my feelings in words.

"We celebrated the big occasion in traditional Arab style in our camp with colleagues and well-wishers. But that's history and I must get on with my next mission to win another medal, Inshallah."

It took a world record time of 27.98 seconds from Walid Kitla of Tunisia to win the gold from Hammadi and Rheed McCracken of Australia in the 200m T34 race in front of an estimated crowd of 80,000 at the Olympic Stadium.

Hammadi had won his heat in a Paralympic Games record time of 29.03 yet he was placed third best in the timing behind Kitla, who only a few minutes later set a world record in his heat, and McCracken going into the final.

Hammadi had won a gold medal over the same distance at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports World Championship in New Zealand last year and the UAE camp quietly fancied his chances.

"It's my first Paralympics and I didn't know what to expect. But after winning the heat in a record time, I definitely thought I had a chance to win a medal," Hammadi said.

"To win the silver coming from the third-best time from the heats was too good to believe.

"I think it is all down to hard work at the end.

"Every competitor here has come well prepared.

"I think, as a team, the UAE had done their part and we received some excellent backing up for the London Games."

Hammadi believes he can push for another medal over the shorter trip against a field that includes most of the competitors from the 200m race.

"It will be the same competitors but like all sprint races it will be tough and close," Hammadi said.

" A good start will be the key and I think I will stand a good chance if the plans work out well."

While Hammadi celebrated the UAE's second medal on Tuesday, there was pain and disappointment for Mohammed Khamis Khalaf, the weightlifter who suffered a shoulder injury in his first attempt in the 90kg division. Khalaf became the first Emirati Paralympics gold medallist when he won the 90kg event in the 2004 Athens Games.

He won silver in Beijing in 2008 and the London Games was his fourth, having first appeared at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Siham Al Rasheedy was placed seventh from a field of 18 in the women's discus F57/58, which was won by Nassima Saifi of Algeria.

apassela@thenational.ae

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