Qatar’s para-athlete Abdulrahman Abdulqader has blazed new trails. The shot put star has etched a legacy and set benchmarks that are unlikely to be surpassed in the near future.
At the recently-concluded Tokyo Games, the 33-year-old Qatari admirably overcame circumstances (read the bubble life) and tough competition to win his second Paralympic medal.
He is the first Qatari to win a Paralympic medal having bagged silver in the same event at the 2016 Rio Games.
In the Japanese capital, Abdulqader won bronze in the men’s shot put F34 event despite carrying an injury in his left wrist to become the first Qatari double medallist at the Paralympic Games.
To add to the challenge was that his coach, Ahcene Bouteldja, was quarantined for 10 days, as someone near their seats on the flight to Tokyo had tested positive for Covid-19.
However, he showed his mental fortitude and gave his best to emerge on the podium once again. He threw 11.36m to finish third as Jordan’s Ahmed Hindi took the gold medal with a new world record of 12.25m, while Morocco’s Azeddine Nouiri clinched silver with an effort of 11.55m.
He had won Rio silver with an 11.15m effort.
“I am very happy to be back with a second Olympic medal. It was tough as we were in a bubble life. It was a different feeling,” Abdulqader told Gulf Times yesterday.
His achievements at Rio and Tokyo, Abdulqader feels, has spurred him on and inspired him to achieve greater goals.
“I feel very proud to get the bronze medal in Tokyo after the Rio silver, which was the biggest achievement of my sporting life,” Abdulqader said.
With two medals in the bag, he is eyeing the elusive gold in Paris in three years’ time to complete his tally of Paralympics medals.
“I am very motivated to win the only remaining medal – the gold – especially after receiving the Al Wajbah Decoration from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. My next goal is to win a gold medal in the Paris Games,” the soft-spoken Qatari, who was the flag bearer for the country’s contingent in Tokyo along with fellow shot putter Sara Masoud, said.
The Al Wajbah Decoration was granted by the Amir in recognition of Abdulqader’s achievements on the world stage, including his two Olympic medals.
Abdulqader has been an inspiration for people in general and those who are differently-abled in particular in Qatar, and many youth want to follow his footsteps.
“I keep recommending to all the youngsters to take up sports and not to shy away from it. Sport will keep them healthy and give them confidence and everything will change thereafter,” said Abdulqader, who was adjudged Qatar’s Male Para Athlete of the Year in 2018.
“Sport has been life-changing, it has touched my life in many ways… you become more confident, more disciplined in your life and in my case, it allowed me to face the world,” he said.
The shot putter started competing in 2008, building an impressive career with milestones including the Olympic medals, and gold in the F34 Shot Put final at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics held in London.