The Arab World’s hopes are not only pinned on its 2016 Olympic athletes, but also on the Paralympians who have been making us proud since 1972. Some Arab countries, like Iraq, Egypt and Algeria, have won more Paralympic medals than Olympic ones, and several Arab Paralympic athletes have held world records.
At the international tournaments leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympics, more than forty Arab Paralympians achieved qualifying results that landed in the top five of their respective categories in the qualification ratings. Here's a closer look at twelve Arab athletes who topped the Paralympic qualification charts .
1. Garrah Nassar Tnaiash, Iraq (Shot Put)
Tnaiash has the best qualifying shot put among the F40 (short stature) men headed for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
In Para-athletics, qualification spots are granted to National Paralympic Committees based on their athletes’ performance. The NOC is then in charge of allotting its Paralympic tickets to the athletes it deems worthy. Tnaiash was the rightful receiver of Iraq’s Paralympic ticket to the men’s Shot Put F40 event, as he had earned the qualification slot with a gold-medal win at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championship . Tnaiash is eyeing the gold at his first Paralympic participation.
2. Kovan Abdulraheem, Iraq (Javelin Throw)
Similary, Abdulraheem reserved Iraq’s spot at the 2016 Paralympics by winning silver in the men’s Javelin Throw F41 (short stature) event at the 2015 World Championship, where the top two athletes in each category grant their NPCs a Paralympic allocation in the respective event. He has the second best qualifying performance in the men’s javelin F40/41. The javelin throw 2011 World Champion and 2015 runner-up participated in the javelin and discus throw events, as well as the shot put event in London’s 2012 Olympics, placing 4th, 12th and 8th, respectively. He won two bronze medals, for shot put and discus, at the 2014 Asian Para Games.
3. Maroua Ibrahmi, Tunisia (Shot Put and Club Throw)
Ibrahmi has the best qualifying shot put among the F32 (limb impairment) women, and the second best club throw. She had won a gold for each of the two events at the 2015 World Championship, granting Tunisia a Paralympic slot. She brought home two medals from her first Paralympic Games in 2012, a club throw gold and a shot put bronze. Additionally, she has claimed four World Championship golds.
4. Mounia Gasmi, Algeria (Shot Put and Club Throw)
Gasmi placed right before Ibrahmi in the qualifying club throw, and right after her in shot put, but she holds the world record for both. Gasmi won a club throw silver at the 2012 Paralympics, a shot put silver at the 2013 World Championship and a silver for each of the two events at the 2015 World Championship, where she claimed a Paralympic allocation.
5. Ahmad Al Mutairi, Kuwait (Wheelchair Racing)
Topping the men’s 100 meter T33 (coordination impairment) ranking with a 16.46 second finish, Al Mutairi is poised for glory in his second consecutive Paralympic Games. He won his country a Paralympic berth after bringing home the gold from the World Championship. The 2015 World Champion of the T33 100 meter race competed in javelin, 100 and 200 meter events in London 2012.
In 2014, he won two silvers at the Asian Para Games for the 100 and 200 meter races. Mutairi was born with cerebral palsy, which rendered him partially paraplegic but did not stop him from racing and playing basketball, claiming four world records along the way.
6. Walid Ktila, Tunisia (Wheelchair Racing)
Ktila has the fastest qualifying times among the T34 (coordination impairment) men taking part in the 100 and 800 meter races. While a single Paralympic slot can be granted to the NPC per athlete, Ktila won four golds at the 2015 World Championship for each of the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter races- for which he holds the world records. With two 2012 Paralympic and eight World Championship golds on his tally, Ktila is one to be watched out for at the 2016 Paralympics.
7. Abdulla Alaryani, United Arab Emirates (Shooting)
Alaryani’s qualifying score is the best in the men's 50 meters Free Rifle 3 Positions SH1 (Shooters able to support a firearm without a stand). He has won a 2012 gold Paralympic medal, a 2014 World Championship silver, plus seven World Cup golds, six silvers and three bronzes.
8. Rasool Mohsin, Iraq (Powerlifting)
Mohsin qualified for Rio 2016 by ranking second in the men’s 72 kilograms category, where the top eight athletes in each weight class get an Olympic ticket as long as they fulfill the minimum qualifying standard . Mohsin’s qualifying achievement was his 218 kilogram lift that earned him a gold medal at the Fazza Championship this February and exceeded the minimum target by 76 kilograms. The world record holder is a 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Championship silver medalist for the 56 kilogram category, and the 2014 Pan Arab Games 65 kilogram champion.
9. Fatma Omar, Egypt (Powerlifting)
Omar is heading to Rio 2016 with the best qualifying lift (141 kilograms) – which is more than double the minimum standard – among the women in the 61 kilogram category. She has participated in and won a gold medal at every Olympic Games since 2000, improving her results each time. She also won gold at the World Championships in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2014.
10-12. Sherif Othman, Hany Abdelhady, Mohamed Eldib (Powerlifting)
They each have the best qualifying result in their respective 59, 88 and 97 kilograms weight class. The three record-holders each won a gold medal at the 2012 London Paralympics, and Othman has an extra 2008 Paralympic gold. Additionally, Othman has won two gold World Championship medals, Abdelhady has a single World Championship gold and Eldib has two silvers.