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January 29, 2013 | Asia Pacific: Afghanistan

You Are Our Hero

By Karl Hejlik

Fazil Rabi overcame everyone's low expectations, including his family's, to become a world-class Special Olympics athlete.

Fazil Rabi who is a floor hockey player from Afghanistan, nearly missed his opportunity to join Special Olympics. His older brothers did not believe he could succeed and wanted him to stay with them and help support the family, which is very poor. Fortunately, Special Olympics staff stepped in, making it possible for Fazil to both make money for the family and compete. Fazil worked hard for years and it paid off. In 2009, he competed at the World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho and brought back a silver medal. He won the respect and admiration of everyone in his neighborhood, but Fazil was just getting started. His regular trainings and hard work gave him another chance to represent his country - at the World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013. He is confident to win gold for his country this time. Now his brothers realize they underestimated Fazil’s abilities. “We were wrong; you are our hero,” they tell him.

About Karl Hejlik: Senior Manager, Health and Research Communications.

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