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Ahmed Kelly: A Resilient Paralympic Swimmer from Baghdad

Abandoned in front of an orphanage in Baghdad, Iraq,  Ahmed Kelly was adopted when he was seven, along with his brother Emmanuel, by humanitarian Moira Kelly from the Children First Foundation charity. Ahmed was abandoned because he was born with deformed limbs. Doctors suspect that his condition may have been caused by exposure to radioactive chemicals during the Gulf War.

Moria took her newly adopted children back home with her to Australia, where Ahmed soon fell in love with sports. Ahmed joined the football team after learning to run on his prosthetic. He soon joined the Paralympics, which is the Olympic section for disabled athletes.

In 2009, he competed in his first international competition, the 2009 Oceania Paralympic Championships in Darwin. His coach, Coach Harris, told Reuters, “There’s nothing too hard for him… He’ll always say yes”.

Ahmed’s insistence on training and becoming the best he could be impressed many of people around him. He found encouragement from those who mean much to him, telling Reuters “I want to get the best out of myself. But everyone has been so supportive and I couldn’t have done it without them”. His disabilities weren’t a barrier in his path to become an champion swimmer.

After struggling two years with his swimming lessons, Ahmed has gone on to claim the lead in the back‐to‐back 100m breaststroke competitions at the Australian Championships of 2010 and 2011, setting new world records each time. That’s something very impressive!

Having represented Australia in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, this young 24 yr old Iraqi man now has his sights set on the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. There’s nothing more inspiring than a person with ambition who knows what he wants and will let nothing get in his way!

Leave a smile in support of Ahmed’s dream!

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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