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Jordan Paralympians soon head to Tokyo eyeing medals

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 11,2021 - Last updated at Aug 11,2021

AMMAN — The Tokyo Paralympic Games will provide more Jordanian athletes with a chance to get on the podium, break records and compete alongside the world’s best as the Kingdom joins nations at the world’s biggest sporting gathering.

Since 1984, Jordan has won a total of 12 medals at the Paralympics (1 gold, 6 silver and 5 bronze). 

The Paralympic team is currently on a final training camp in Turkey before they head to Tokyo next week for the August 24 — September 5 Paralympic Games.

At this edition, Jordan has qualified 10 athletes in three events: table tennis, athletics and weightlifting. The delegation will be headed by Jordan Paralympic Committee Secretary General and the only athlete to ever win a Paralympic gold medal for Jordan, former wheelchair table tennis ace Maha Barghouti.

The delegation will include Ahmad Hindi in athletics, Beijing and Athens bronze medallist veteran Khitam Abu Awad and Faten Oleimat in table tennis and seven athletes in power lifting: Athens and Beijing silver medallist and Rio bronze medallist Jamil Shibli, Rio silver medallist Omar Karadeh, Beijing bronze medallist Mutaz Juneidi, Rio silver medallist Tharwat Hajjaj, Mohammad Tarbash, Abdul Karim Khattab and Asma Issa.

While many are decorated Paralympic medallists, the team includes new faces including Khattab who won the bronze at the World Championship in the 88kg category.

Athletes with disabilities have usually made up for the failure to achieve better results on the Olympic scene, where even qualifying to the world’s premier sports gathering has been a daunting task, and since first participating in 1980, the Kingdom was yet to earn an Olympic medal up until 2016. 

Since the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Jordan’s national anthem was played twice: the first when Barghouti won a gold medal at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 (wheelchair table tennis) and then at the Rio Olympics 2016 by Ahmad Abu Ghaush (taekwondo’s 68 kg category). At this year’s Tokyo Games, two medals were won as Jordan’s Saleh Al Sharabaty grabbed a silver (taekwondo — 80kg category), while a second medal, a bronze, was secured by Abdul Rahman Al Masatfa (-67 kg category) as karate made its debut as an Olympic sport.

A look back at past participations demonstrates how sports for the disabled has gained recognition for Jordan through impressive performances on the international scene with the crowning achievement Barghouti’s gold in Sydney 2000. Jordan’s medals tally started in 1984, when the late Aida Shishani won bronze in athletics, 200m. At the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, Imad Gharbawi won a silver medal in the discus. Two medals were added in Athens 2004 when Jamil Shibli won silver in the shot put while the women’s table tennis team (Khitam Abu Awad and Fatima Azzam) won bronze. (Abu Awad later on won silver at the 2006 World Championship).

In 2008, Jordan’s athletes competed in table tennis, power-lifting and athletics and ended competition with a record four medals, two silvers and two bronze. Mohammad Qaradeh took silver in power lifting; Shibli, a silver medallist in Athens 2004, added a second silver with a new Paralympic world record in the shot put, Juneidi won a bronze medal in power-lifting and the women’s wheelchair table tennis team won bronze when Fatima Azzam and Khitam Abu Awad repeated their bronze medal win in Athens 2004.

The 2012 Paralympics was the most disappointing participation after the usual winners in table tennis failed to advance past the round of 16 while power lifters were embroiled in controversy amid assault complaints and were returned home.

In Rio 2016, Jordan won three medals in power lifting (two silvers by Tharwat Hajjaj (86kg category) and Omar Karadeh (49kg category), while 2004 and 2008 silver medallist Jamil Shibli won bronze (+107 Kg category). 

Paralympic athletes are grouped in classes defined by the degree of function presented by the disability. Traditionally there are athletes who belong to six different disability groups in the Paralympics Movement: amputee, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disability and a group which includes all those who are not within the aforementioned groups.

Following the Olympics and Paralympics, a reshuffle in sports federations is expected soon as they end their four-year terms, with sports observers calling for qualified members of federations to lead a better planning and assessment role to put Jordan on the competitive sporting map.


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