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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Emirati athlete to be flown home on Wednesday for burial

Large crowds expected as Abdullah Hayayei is laid to rest in home town

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 31:  Abdullah Hayayei of UAE competes in the men's discus F34 final during the Evening Session on Day Ten of the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Doha, Qatar.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 31: Abdullah Hayayei of UAE competes in the men's discus F34 final during the Evening Session on Day Ten of the IPC Athletics World Championships at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

An Emirati athlete who died in a training accident in London last week will return home today to be laid to rest in his home town.

Abdullah Hayayei was crushed when a metal cage collapsed on him during a training session at Newham Leisure Centre last Tuesday.

The 36-year-old father of five, a discus had been due to compete the World Para Athletics Championships, which began on Friday.

He will be laid to rest in Qidfa in Fujairah this afternoon.

“Abdullah was a son of this country and went to London to represent the UAE and hold its flag up high,” his eldest brother, Rashed, 51, told The National last night.

"Now is coming back home to us."

An investigation into the cause of the accident, including identifying who was to blame, is under way by the Metropolitan Police. It is to ascertain whether anyone was at fault for potential gross negligence manslaughter.

"Right now our focus is on bringing his body back home," said Rashed.

"However, we will not forget what happened and investigations are going forward. Whoever is responsible for my brother’s death will be held accountable."

As The National reported last week, Hayayei had rebuilt his life after almost being killed on an armed forces exercise in 2001, resulting in severe nerve damage and the disability he had until his death.

Hayayei made his Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, finishing sixth in the javelin and seventh in shot put in the F34, a category for seated throws for athletes with impairments typical of conditions such as cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury.

His family is anticipating a significant turnout of family, friends and members of the community.

“We chose this mosque because it is big enough to welcome all of Abdullah’s friends and teammates. Abdullah was loved by everyone and we are all saddened by his loss,” Rashed said.

On Monday, team mate Mohammed Al Hammadi won the UAE’s first medals – a silver and bronze - at the World Para Athletics Championships.

The Emirati was runner-up in the men’s 400m wheelchair T34 category and prior to that finished third in the 100m race on Day 4 of the competition at the Olympic Stadium.

Al Hammadi dedicated the medals to Hayayei and said: “This is for my brother Abdullah," he said,

Dr Abdel Razag bin Rasheed, head of the Khor Fakkan Sports Club for the Disabled, who has trained the fallen athlete since 2011, said that all future events will be dedicated to Hayayei.

“Abdullah was a national pride. Every tournament we participate in and every medal we win will be dedicated to him," he said.

“There is no compensating young children over the loss of their father, but the team will do its utmost to support the family during these times. We will never forget him and still cant get over his death. We hope that justice will be served and his rights don't go to waste.

Hayayei will be buried at Qidfa cemetery after afternoon prayers, which will take place at the grand mosque in Qidfa.