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Khadija Zen Al Abdeen from Mauritania, the First Female Athlete ever to be sent to Compete outside Her Home Country


Twenty-three-year-old Khadija joined Special Olympics Mauritania in 2006. Born in 1995, she has participated in five National Games. Her remarkable performances and achievements took her to another level when she was selected to become a board member of Special Olympics Mauritania. Her role is to identify and understand the challenges and hopes of the athletes and bring it to the table for discussion. And, she succeeded in her role as an athlete leader who speaks on behalf of her colleagues.

In the 2018 MENA Regional Games in Abu Dhabi, she participated in table tennis, thus becoming the first female athlete from her country to compete whether in the Regional or World Games. Since sports was restricted to male athletes in her country, Khadija believes her participation to be an unprecedented change in the Mauritanian society towards female empowerment in sports and she thinks that the gender gap will diminish very soon.

According to Khadija, her 12-year history with Special Olympics has definitely had a great impact on her life. Her vision in life has completely changed, as she views it from a different angle. She has become more open and expanded her network of friends, whom she met through table tennis. She even beats her friends without intellectual disabilities in some matches.

Khadija now feels society has accepted her, as people are now keen to mingle and chat with her a lot.