The Blind Kid Who Became a Paralympic Champion | Against All Odds
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The Blind Kid Who Became a Paralympic Champion | Against All Odds

November 20, 2019


I chose swimming mainly because
it was the only place where I felt good. I got where I am
because I was very tenacious, and above all because I dreamed
of being able to be like everyone else. I didn’t accept I was blind
until I was 19. The world of the Olympics taught me
that with real training, dedication and the right people
you can achieve anything you want. The difficulty of teaching a blind person to swim… Someone who hasn’t been able to see…
-he could see until age 6 or 7- Someone who hasn’t seen a butterfly stroke,
how do you explain that? Butterflies are insects… or crawl, freestyle. What is front crawl?
Backstroke, breaststroke… these are abstract concepts. Enhamed was a really fast learner. You could explain anything to him,
show him and get into the water with him and he knew what to do instantly. I remember one day we were doing laps, the water was cold,
I was very tired at the end of the day. I reached the wall
and he didn’t tell me my time. He said: “You shouldn’t have come for this shit,
you’re wasting my time”. I remember he gave the starting signal,
I started swimming, while tearing up. But what was I going to do?
Leave? That really affected me and since then, January 2, 2002
to September 30, 2004 when I went to Athens
I didn’t miss a single training day. I went swimming, no matter what,
every day. That’s when I thought,
“I want to break a record. How? No idea”. I thought if I wanted a 5 I’d probably get a 3 or a 4,
so I’ll go for a 10. I had never been in an international competition
with Enhamed. I swim one hundred meters
and when I touch the wall a team mate comes and says:
world record. I was very happy
I could be there at that moment. Imagine teaching a child how to swim and, ten years later, seeing that child
breaking a world record. A 15-year old record. I try to think about it from his perspective
and I get emotional. That was my contribution, my gift and my way of thanking him. I think the Beijing Paralympics was when Enhamed found
his true potential and really triumphed. I remember when I entered the pool,
in the Water Cube. I thought “this is amazing!” I won the 100 m butterfly stroke final
of Beijing 2008 time and again in my mind. I would get up at 4 in the morning
to watch him compete on television. When I went into the water
and finished the race I realized it had been perfect,
I knew I had won. It was spectacular,
a truly perfect race. It’s an indescribable happiness. Enhamed went down in history
at Beijing 2008, it was unbelievable: 4 gold medals and exceptional results, amazing for the team and for him
and of course for me, as his coach. When someone doesn’t think I’m blind I feel flattered. People forgetting your blindness,
that’s gratifying. Not towards me, but towards everyone
who has helped me during these years, because that was our goal.

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  1. I have swim practice today and I'm trying to convince myself to go because I'm sooo tired and WOW this guy is amazing

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