Sulayman Al-Shaykh.. A Story of Championship and Victory over Paralyses
Disabilities do not prevent the people, who have the needed will, from realizing their choices. The Syrian athlete Sulayman al-Shaykh chose to challenge polio, his companion since childhood, and changed his life at a personal level. Today, he is a “bodybuilding” trainer in the northern countryside of Homs.
Sulayman al-Shaykh, 49 years old, from the city of al-Rastan in Northern Homs, told Enab Baladi the story of his life, the journey through which he overcome the permanent disability and looked forward only to his goals, as he described it, stressing that he managed to challenge all his ideas about failure to be the country’s champion for the year of 1995.
Sulayman studied at “al-Amal School for People with Disabilities” (Hope) in Damascus. He excelled and acquired a high school certificate for the scientific branch. After this, he studied in the capital’s Institute of Electronics and graduated. He opened a shop for repairing watches and mobile phones in the city of Homs, in middle Syria.
The first time he got in touch with sports was in 1994, in the “Abdul Bari Hawash” Sports Club in Homs. “It was one of the most difficult experiences in my life. I repeatedly wondered, how could I succeed while I failed to hold on to my crutches,” he said.
After joining the sports club, “I trained a lot and enjoyed it. The whole thing was a challenge to the disability that I suffer. I continued the journey, which proved to be a success when I got the country’s champion’s title. The title was the fruit of all the effort I have undertaken, the hope planted inside me and a challenge, the strongest challenge ever in my whole life,” Sulayman added.
After the break out of the Syrian revolution, Sulayman kept training individually. He did not stop, until his son was hit with a splinter, which mutilated his arm. “After the incident, I passed through harsh conditions, similar to those at the beginning of my journey. Since then, I decided to train the young people, who were affected in the revolution,” he explained.
In agreement with his colleagues, former champions, Sulayman started training young men for tow hours a day in a sports hall, which one of his friends has opened in al-Rastan, pointing out that the idea was welcomed with “warmth” by the trainees.
Just like the rest of the projects in the besieged areas, many factors fettered Sulayman’s steps, on top of which was the lack of equipment and a vehicle to transport the people with disabilities to the training location, as he said.
Mohammed Al-Khalil, a young man from the city of al-Rastan, views Sulayman as an icon for hope and perseverance. “When I heard his story and saw him, I could not believe that he was a trainer despite the disability. Additionally, wining the title many years ago is a difficult thing and requires a massive effort,” he said.
Mohammad felt perseverance and learned it from Sulayman, as he said, adding that “he changed my perspective to life and was a positive example for the idea that no matter how weak you are, with perseverance, you can reach your goal.”
Omar Ahmad, another young man whose leg got injured in an artillery shelling that targeted his house in rural Idlib, tells Enab Baladi that the hope in Sulayman’s eyes has eased my injury’s pain, “I started feeling that I can change into another person”.
He stresses that the story of Sulayman and other people like him, who own determination, “raise the spirit of the people with disabilities and force them to hold on to life,” pointing out that he now believes in the idea saying: “A person’s lack is always redeemed by something from within the person himself.”
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