Iraqi Athlete Aims High at MENA Regional Games

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Growing up, Mohamed Kheir Allah dealt with isolation and stigma that often comes with having a visible intellectual disability. Mohamed has Down syndrome and people used to label him and urge that he stay separated from others.

After joining Special Olympics, Mohamed was introduced to a new world of opportunities. Through training, he began a new routine, started to consume less calories, and lose weight. In fact, he lost about 9 kilos (20 pounds). Soon he was able to participate in Special Olympics competitions.

Since then, he has emerged not only as a competitive swimmer, but also as a respected member of his community. He’s participated in World Games in 2007 and 2011, as well as Regional Games. And today, he is more than an extraordinary athlete. Mohamed also has an independent social life and a supportive wife, with whom he is experiencing joy and happiness.

“Special Olympics gave me the chance to develop more confidence and I am extremely fortunate as I proudly represent my home country,” says Mohamed. “I hope to bring home another gold medal to make my wife full of pride of my success. She deserves it, as she has never shown anything but support and motivation.”

He adds, “I am different and I like being who I am. I want people to accept this.” He is aiming to impress everyone at the MENA Regional Games competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.