EgyptMain Slider

Photos: Wheelchair hero Haitham Adel crosses the English Channel, making history

Egyptian Haitham Adel wanted nothing more than to become like his hero, world-class swimmer Abdel Latif Abu Heif, ever since reading about him back in primary school.

Back then, his life’s dream was to cross the “La Manche” (English Channel), for he saw swimming to be the greatest achievement. But time passed, and Adel left his ambition behind him – until he suffered a spinal cord injury resulting in hemiplegia, paralysis on one side of his body.

His lost dream now returned to haunt him.

The injury was the push to bring back his dream of swimming and crossing the English Channel. His disability did not stand in the way – instead it served as a strong motivator.

Adel defied strong waves and difficult weather to successfully cross the English Channel from England to France, becoming the first swimmer ever to use a wheelchair and do so.

As if that wasn’t enough, Adel even took first place nationwide in the triathlon, a multi-stage competition that includes three continuous and sequential competitions that include swimming, cycling, and running.

He made his name amongst global achievements and crossed the English Channel in 12 consecutive hours, overcoming all difficulties.

“I spoke to Captain Khaled Shalaby, who is responsible in Egypt for crossing the English Channel. At the time, he told me that I’m the first person on a wheelchair to attempt crossing the channel, but I have the will, and I entered the camp since June, and I trained last year, but I was not lucky enough to qualify,” Adel explained.

Reaching this dream was preceded by hard work over the past months, training in the cold waters of Hurghada every day, for long periods of time, starting at five am.

Thanks to his arduous training, Adel and five of his colleagues in a team called “Battalion 101” were able to cross the English Channel.

He explained the crossing to Al-Masry Al-Youm: “Each of us was swimming for an hour, until we reached France, 12 and a half hours of continuous swimming without stopping, from 3:10 am until 3:15 pm,” adding that it was an immense challenge due to a variety of factors.

These included torrents of rain, high waves, thunder and lighting and even sea animals he had never seen before.

“We saw death with our own eyes more than once,” he said, adding that it made their final victory all the greater.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Related Articles

Back to top button