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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UAE commentator calls for more safety for para athletes following death of Emirati

Abdullah Hayayei dies after suffering injuries preparing for World Para Athletics Championships in London

Abdullah Hayayei is pictured competing in the men's discus F34 final during the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Doha, Qatar.
Abdullah Hayayei is pictured competing in the men's discus F34 final during the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Doha, Qatar.

Kefah Al Kaabi, one of the country's leading sports commentators, has urged for more protection be given to the disabled athletes after Emirati para athlete Abdullah Hayayei died following a training incident in London on Tuesday.

Hayayei, 36, represented the UAE in the F34 class javelin and shot put at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, and was training at Newham Leisure Centre in preparation for the World Para Athletics Championships, which begin on Friday, when he sustained injuries that led to his death.

The International Paralympic Committee gave no details of the cause of death of Hayayei, 36, who was entered in the shot put, discus and javelin throw events in the F34 class.

“The loss of a life regardless [if] he or she is an athlete or not is very sad indeed,” Al Kaabi, a former newspaper journalist and one of the country's most well-known sports radio commentators, said.

“The incident is tragic, but there is a lesson to be learnt. Accidents can occur anywhere around the world in competitions but we need to look at the bigger picture on the safety of the disabled athletes.

“It’s very hard for a disabled athlete to defend from dangerous situations for the simple reason that he or she cannot react because of their disabilities. Hence, someone should be around them all the time.

“Sometimes we take it for granted that they are excelling in sports and can take care of themselves during competitions. Unfortunately, they can be helpless in such situations.”

Al Kaabi, who has covered disabled sports extensively, both in the Emirates and abroad during a 35-year media career. He says he has built up a strong rapport with many of the country's disabled athletes, although he had not met Hayayei.

“I know a majority of the disabled athletes representing the UAE because I use to attend all the local competitions and also travelled with them for the regional events,” he said.

“I had a sister, who after graduating, worked with the disabled. I used to accompany her and then attended all their sporting events as well as the none-sporting events.

“I became friendly with most of the disabled athletes in Dubai and Sharjah but unfortunately haven’t met Abdullah as he is from Khor Fakkan. My condolences and thoughts are with his family and relatives.”