Hamda Al Hosani is an Emirati sprinter who last week won Gold in the 100 metres race at the Special Olympics Games in Abu Dhabi, bringing a grand total to 16 Special Olympic medals to her name. The 29-year-old athlete says changing the attitude of people is what motivates her. “In the Middle East, people look at intellectual disabilities as a bad thing but I want to change that negative perception. I’m a very active person. I don’t like sitting still that’s why I love running.”
Hamda’s mother Zaafaran says that her daughter stopped attending school in grade six when she found it difficult to walk. “We figured out Hamda had a disability when she was 2-3 months old. As she got older, her body was collapsing, she was struggling to walk and function physically. She had to stop going to school as her condition got worse and her school said they could not educate her any longer.” Despite this, Zaafaran saw that her daughter loved to run and at age 13, encouraged her to sign up for the Special Olympics team. “It gave Hamda a lot of confidence and allowed her to meet new people and forge friendships with people from all over the world. Hamda is now a much stronger person than ever.”
Refusing to let her disability define her, Hamda also enjoys playing football, basketball and used to be on an equestrian team. “I would like to encourage everyone with intellectual disabilities to look out for what they are interested in and to do more activities that boost their confidence,” says the star Olympian.