Edward MAALOUF: The First and Only Lebanese Paralympic Medalist!

14 May 2016 – I grew up with the passion for sports. Beijing 2008 was the first Olympics I have ever watched! It inspired me to become an athlete and dream about representing Lebanon at the Olympic Games. After the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, I discovered that we have Lebanese heroes who were able to get on the podium of the biggest sporting event in the world!

Edward MAALOUF was such an inspiration for me. He was the first Lebanese Paralympic Medalist! He won two bronze medals in Beijing! He raised the Lebanese flag high in the Chinese capital! When I saw him at the Beirut Marathon awards ceremony last year, I went to him and asked him for a picture together because for me he is a role model, an idol!Beirut-Marathon-2015-45

Edward is now working hard for Rio Paralympics, he couldn’t qualify due to some health issues but he is hoping for a wild card that he strongly deserve! The champion is now participating and shining in international competitions!

I was sure that Edward was getting a full support in Lebanon because he is the only Olympic and Paralympic games medalist since 1980!!! We won our last Olympic medal more than 30 years ago! And this champion gave us hope! Made us believe that we can still make it! That we have the ability to challenge the best in the world!

Few days ago, I was shocked when I read his status on Facebook:

“As you know I am preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio and the way is not as easy as it looks like. I missed the qualification when I was in the hospital for very long period, now I am waiting for the wildcard to be able to represent Lebanon during the games. 

“I worked hard with my coach and I came back from long period of sickness and now I am on the right way with my preparation, what is still needed financial support. I need a new handbike urgently and I cant afford it. The handbike I am asking for is not something we (as Lebanese) can not afford since most of Lebanese cyclists already have a carbon bike but me. And through the race i have been doing since my recovery I can say the carbon handbike can help to reach a podium place in Rio as equipments are very important in our sport. Many people tried to help, I knocked on all the doors that I thought may be able to help but still not one positive answer untill today, knowing that the games are in 3 months.

“So my dear facebook friends if you know or you are a person who can help with this issue, the help from the government to get the wild card is not enough. So please if anyone of u out there can help in any way send me a private message if you please. Your support will be more than appreciated.

After reading this, I thought that we should, as Lebanese people, support our hero! I never thought that I will be seeing such a statement by a Paralympic Medalist! It is unacceptable that such a respected champion get no support what so ever to be able to make it to the Paralympics! Edward MAALOUF is our only chance of medal at the Paralympics! It is really sad hearing that no one is standing by him!

Edward MAALOUF was doing all these achievement WITHOUT A CARBON HANDBIKE which makes his achievement greater that is already is!! I am asking every one who wants to support this champion to do something even if it was a small step, because it can make a difference!

Our champion has a lot of races to go and he is having issues with his hanbike but he never surrenders, he is a solder who fights with the weapon he has in his hands no matter how powerful the weapon is, the will is there and it is making a difference!

“After coming back from my worldcup races in South Africa, unfortunately after starting rebuidling my handbike for training, I saw a damage on the fork. Big thank to Edwin Franke who offered to help and welded it fast to be ready for my second races this Saturday and next monday in the Cologne Classic race in Germany. After these races ill be heading to Ostende in Belgium for the second wordcup races. These both races are a world class races where the best of the world are competing for a medal under the flag of their country.”

The journey is just beginning! So let’s support Edward MAALOUF in his last Paralympic participation!

Krystel Saneh