Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Emirati sprinter wins gold moments after finding out her family were hurt in a car crash

The Special Olympics athlete said she would win the gold medal in honour of her mother, who had to be taken to hospital

Hamda Al Hosani was warming up for 200-metre sprint finals in Dubai on Saturday when she found out her mother and sister had been in a car accident.

They were driving from Abu Dhabi to watch the Emirati sprinter, 30, compete in the Special Olympic World Games at Dubai Police Academy.

Riddled with fear for her mother and sister, the Special Olympian burst into tears and had to be calmed by her coaches until she declared, “I will win for my mother.”

And win she did.

Al Hosani brought home the gold, clocking a time of 32.14 seconds, beating her personal best by more than two seconds.

The athlete now has 18 Special Olympic medals and is looking forward to competing in the 100m sprint on Monday.

Naila Khemis, an athletics coach for the UAE team, said they were unsure how to approach Al Hosani after she heard about the crash.

“She was crying when she spoke to her sister," Khemis said. "Hamda had been calling many times to know when they would arrive.

"I tried to calm her down but she was very sad. Then she said she would do her best for her mother and she did it. She even broke her own best time."

Al Hosani’s mother and sister are in Al Rahba hospital under observation. They were treated for injuries and were expected to be discharged on Sunday evening.

Al Hosani visited her mother and sister in hospital on Sunday and was relieved to see them in good spirits.

“She was all smiles. She is happy after spending two hours with her family,” Khemis said.

Al Hosani’s mother Zaafaran has been a staunch supporter of her daughter, regularly attending training sessions and competitions locally and overseas.

Coaches praised Al Hosani for not allowing her mother’s absence at the 200m finals to dent her composure.

“Hamda was really very upset that her mother and sister had not reached the stadium,” said Nadia Messaadi, one of four UAE athletics coaches.

"Her mother is usually with her and watches all her races. She kept saying that her mother needed to be there.

“It is remarkable that she could recover from that shock and win.”

Her mother and sister have promised to be in the stands for her race on Monday but her coaches are confident Al Hosani is ready for the competition even if they are unable to make it.

She is among about 300 athletes with intellectual disabilities representing the UAE in the Games.

Al Hosani is an advocate for children with special needs and has spoken about challenging prejudices against people of determination.

She believes that sports is the path to changing minds.

One of the most recognised among the UAE Special Olympics athletes, Al Hosani has been featured in advertisements and can even be found on the livery of an Etihad plane promoting the Games.

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WATCH: The National speaks to Hamda about her preparation

Updated: March 18, 2019 12:58 PM

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