Israel Sports, Paralympics

Druze rower qualifies for Paralympic games

After being injured in a terror attack in 2005, Saleh Shaheen’s pushed through despite odd and is now on his way to compete in the Paris Paralympics this Summer.

Rowing Competition (photo: lazyllama/shutterstock)

Saleh Shaheen, a 41 year-old Druze Paralympic athlete from Shfaram, has an inspiring story of resilience and determination. Despite being injured in a terror attack in 2005, he has managed to qualify for the Paralympic games.

Shaheen, who has always been involved in sports, particularly basketball, has a height of 1.95 meters. He enlisted in the IDF as a paratrooper in 2003, later serving as a commander, and later worked as a security guard at the Karni Terminal on the Gaza Strip border.

However, everything changed on January 13, 2005, when three terrorists infiltrated the Karni Terminal and planted an explosive device in the wall, killing six civilians. Shaheen, determined to fight back, engaged in a firefight with one of the terrorists, sustaining serious injuries to his left leg, stomach, and intestines. Despite the severity of his injuries, Shaheen didn't realize the extent of his wounds at the time. After neutralising two of the terrorists, he managed to crawl to safety.

He had to undergo intensive rehabilitation training after receiving metal implants in his legs in order to try returning to sports. Up until then, "athletics was my entire existence," he said.

He tried wheelchair basketball before moving onto Paralympic rowing where he trained for two years with his rowing partner, Shachar Milfelder. They made it to the world championships and have now just qualified for the Paralympic games in Paris this summer, an incredible achievement for them both.

Shaheen's journey to the Paralympic games is a testament to his resilience, persistence, and trust in his abilities. Despite the challenges he has faced, he has not let his injuries define him and continues to pursue his passion for sports. He is also using this experience to inspire and teach others saying “Hopefully, after the Olympics, I will work to promote rowing in Israel generally and in the North more specifically.”

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