Brigitte, Zahra stand tall despite odds

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Brigitte, Zahra stand tall despite odds

A tale of two women taking part in Dubai para archery event

By Moni Mathews (principal Correspondent)

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Published: Sun 25 Jan 2015, 11:04 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:49 PM

Brigitte Duboc and Zahra Nemati will be aiming to win gold at the Fazza International Para Archery competition. — Supplied photo

Brigitte Duboc and Zahra Nemati will be aiming to win gold at the Fazza International Para Archery competition. — Supplied photo

Dubai — World champions Zahra Nemati from Iran and Frenchwoman Brigitte Duboc have their eyes firmly set on the gold medals at the inaugural Fazza International Para-Archery Competition, featuring top-notch differently abled athletes from the UAE, France, India, Romania, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Iraq, Iran and Malaysia.

At the event here, both women will give their hearts out to win the gold. But for many, even before the competition has started, they have not just already won in life, but also the hearts of people all over the world.

Though it is the inaugural event here in Dubai, the para-archery competition has attracted high performance athletes, underscoring the importance accorded to it by the international sporting community.

Zahra is currently ranked second in international rankings among female para-archers, while Brigitte is not far behind at number four. But beyond achieving personal feats and securing national pride for their respective countries, these two inspirational women also hope to inspire disabled persons to rise above their condition and aim for success.

“I now look at life in a different life, and try to see things a bit more positively. With dedication and commitment, I have managed to set aside any negativity about my condition and with what I have achieved, I am grateful that I have become an inspiration for others,” Zahra told the organising committee’s official media team after the practice rounds.

“As a role model, I now even try harder so I can continue to inspire others to see their disabilities in a positive light. Accidents happen every single day, and it happened to me. How one deals with it makes the difference between living life in depression and living life to the fullest.”

Zahra, the first Muslim woman to win gold in a para-archery competition, added: “When I go out and compete, I want to be able to show disabled people that they can do something with their lives, if they just set their hearts and minds into it. I guess this goes as well for those without disabilities.”

Brigitte said: “People with disabilities must draw the strength from within to rise above their difficulties and turn their disability into a motivation to be able to succeed in life.”

“Big support from the family, friends and the community are also critical to helping people with disabilities to lead meaningful and productive lives,” she continued.

Zahra and Brigitte were born without disabilities. In the case of the Iranian ace, she was a taekwondo athlete before a debilitating accident caused her spinal injury.

It took two years for her to deal with the trauma of her disability, after which she still kept the flames of her passion for sports alive. In a short but trying period, Zahra pulled her out of the doldrums she was deeply into initially and returned to an active life.

“I tried many sports, but found archery to be the most suitable for my condition. I love that it allows me to just take away any negativity in my life and focus on something. In archery, we need to clear our mind so we can aim for the target. At the moment before I cast the arrow from my bow, I am in a moment where there is nothing but positivity,” she continued.

Brigitte, the French champion, was 12 years-old when she was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder characterised by muscle contractions that cause muscle twisting and abnormal postures.

She recalled: “I was into cycling and experienced a lot of difficulty because it took some time for doctors to tell me exactly what was wrong. I had to give up cycling because the pain was becoming unbearable. Thankfully, I found a way to pursue my passion for sports in archery, which I consider a universal sport because people with or without disabilities can do it.”

The first Fazza International Para-Archery Competition is hosted by the Dubai Club for the Disabled and Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center in cooperation with the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Paralympic Committee.

moni@khaleejtimes.com



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