Wheelchair Fencer, Ammar Ali presented BP Courage Award at Paralympic Awards in Abu Dhabi
Iraq’s wheelchair fencer, Ammar Ali has been presented the BP Courage Award at the Paralympic Awards Gala in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (7 September 2017).
The Award Ceremony, hosted in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the United Arab Emirates capital, was attended by fellow Rio 2016 athletes, ex-Paralympic stars and recipients of the Paralympic Order.
The Award, which was launched in 2015, saw Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee awarded for her role in successfully campaigning for snowboard to be part of the Paralympic Winter Games programme at Sochi 2014.
Following the call for nominations, IWAS was delighted to nominate Ammar Ali for the 2017 Award with support of IWAS Member, the National Paralympic Committee of Iraq.
Ammar Ali worked as a carpenter in war-torn Baghdad when a bomb blast near his home left him with a spinal cord injury. As part of Ali’s recovery, it was suggested he try wheelchair fencing – this suggestion was set to open up a world of sport and opportunity that would see his life take a whole new direction.
Four years after he took to the piste for the first time, Ali represented Iraq at his Paralympic debut at London 2012 where he placed 6th in individual epee. It was not long before Ali then began climbing the ranks, collecting a silver and bronze at both the 2013 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships and 2014 Asia Championships followed by the illusive gold medal at the 2015 World Championships.
Ali then secured automatic qualification to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games after taking the top spot at the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Asian Championships in individual epee (Cat B).
Five months later, Ammar Ali went on to win Iraq’s first ever Paralympic medal at Rio 2016.
After taking the Rio 2016 Silver, Ali said, "In Baghdad there are still many problems. We still have the war. But we are used to living in Baghdad, it’s my home and I don’t want to go anywhere else. If I die in Baghdad it’s okay, it’s my place. But today I’m smiling because of this silver medal around my neck."
IWAS President, Paul DePace who also received the Paralympic Order in the same evening said, ‘Ali personifies the spirit of the Paralympic movement through his unwavering determination to persevere despite personal challenges and unimaginable adversity that the Iraqi conflict has bought. Our sincerest congratulations to Ammar Ali on this deserved recognition.’
IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Chairman, Pal Szekeres said, ‘Ali’s resilience in the face of such circumstance has seen him climb up the wheelchair fencing rankings and represent the nation in which he holds great pride, on the world stage – his strength in the face of adversity serves as an inspiration for all and encapsulates the spirit of the Movement. On behalf of all at IWAS Wheelchair Fencing, we would like to congratulate Ammar on receiving this prestigious award.”