Firstly, let me introduce myself, my name is Hafeez Ahmad, I am a disability long jumper. I suffer from a disability that has caused me a few setbacks throughout my life.
At the age of five I suffered from a stroke; which meant that the left side of my body was much weaker than my right; this was the first setback. However, I didn’t let this affect me and continued to pursue my passion for sports throughout my childhood and teenage years. However, the future had something else in mind for me. In 2013, I suffered a kidney failure.
This meant that I was bed bound for 6 months and the symptoms caused severe drowsiness and weight gain. I want to take this opportunity to thank the NHS staff who supported me through my recovery. However, even though I was very eager to get back into training.
I was told that I could lose the weight I had gained and become fitter, but I wouldn’t ever be able to compete to my previous in the future. Hearing this really affected me emotionally. It is not something that anyone, let alone someone with an existing disability, wants to hear. Especially after going through such a difficult and life-changing medical procedure for the second time in my life.
Due to this I took some time to get back into my regular training routine; my illness had caused me to be miss out of many athletic opportunities, that were subsequently offered to other athletes. However, I managed to pull myself together both physically and emotionally and defy the advice I was given about not competing at the highest level again in my life.
I trained hard and started to compete again at local and then national events, culminating in me becoming a 2-time national gold medallist and a one-time silver medallist in the long jump. I didn’t stop there, I decided to use my experience to help the next generation of young disabled athletes who may be facing difficulties through a disability. I coach at the Manchester SportCity Athletics academy twice a week, where I help the young athletes develop their techniques and support them through their journey through their own adversity.
This has been my greatest achievement to date, despite the medals I have won. To support a young disabled athlete who may be going through a difficult time, has given me a great deal of pride and pleasure. I want to show the young athletes that their disability does not define who they are, that it doesn’t define how much they can achieve.
I want to empathise with their emotional journey and help them through their journey. Nothing is impossible when we put our minds to it and anything can be achieved when we begin to-believe in ourselves. Where there is a will, there is a way and a purpose. And so on to my future journey and the purpose for sharing my story with you. I want to go on competing at the highest level for as long as my body will let me. However, as is the case with many disability sports, my journey is constrained by finances.
I don’t want to come across as though I am telling a sob story to appeal to your better nature, I am merely articulating my journey in the hope that if anyone is in a situation where they feel they were able to help with sponsorship, it would mean the world to me. It would enable me to keep competing and selfishly fulfil my dreams, but also and more importantly, enable me to keep coaching the next generation of disabled athletes to follow their dreams into the future.
Thanks for taking the time to listen,