Egypt’s Ibrahim Hamadtou, who lost both arms as a child, competes in table tennis at the Rio Paralympics by holding the racket in his teeth. Egypt’s Paralympic pride and joy, Ibrahim Hamadtou, An Egyptian Legend and true meaning of persistence, determination and passionate superhuman!
For Ibrahim, it all started by his relentless passion for table tennis back when he was just a young boy, then even after the train accident which resulted in amputating both his arms when he was only 10 years old, he went back to playing table tennis, as a challenge, 3 years after the accident.
He found his own way to play by putting the racket in his mouth and serves with his foot, after many trials and errors. Hamadtou did not just practice sports as a hobby, guess what? He was qualified to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Para-Table tennis to prove that he did not just overcome his circumstances but made his dream come true.
Entrepreneurs can learn 7 inspiring lessons from his approach of overcoming his circumstances and living his dream and achieving his goals:
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1-Find what you love and what is good for you:
He found his passion at young age and it stayed with him even after the accident. Get zealous for something and devote your time and energy, aim it to achieve your goal.
Find your passion and what gets you up in the morning every day to do what it takes to attain it. When you love what you do, it is not a job anymore, it is your everything, and you will give it more than 200%
2-Do it Your Way:
There is no typical way to implement your idea, be an original in a world full of copies and differentiate your brand to start and complete your entrepreneurial journey.
Do whatever it takes, from testing, adapting, tweaking or modifying to find the best way to run a business.
In Ibrahim’s case, he tried many options to hold the racket under his arm, however, it did not suit him, after many trials and errors he tried holding it in his mouth and there he found his way.
Add to that the unique way he serves, he does it by grasping the ball with his toes, tossing it and delivering a solid swing.
3-Protect Your Dream:
Have a tenacious hold on your dream and don’t let anything deter you from reaching your end-goal.
Hamadtou said in an interview when he was invited to be the guest of honor at the World Team Table Tennis Championships held in Tokyo back in 2014; “There is nothing called impossible”. And he was completely correct!
What is more outstanding, Hamadtou is 43 years old, so he is a sterling example that it is never too late to reach a world class level to compete against the world’s giants. Hamadtou practiced for 30 years to be qualified for the Paralympics in Rio 2016 and nothing stopped him to achieve his dream.
He did not quit when the journey became too challenging, or chose a shortcut, he knew and believed that his hardship would be rewarded when he competed against World Champions, when his hard work and never-ending developing skills would be the pillars to support him in living his dream.
4-Turn Pessimism into Optimism:
When you want to start a business, you begin by writing a business plan. There is a line between what you can gain and what you can lose and if you’re a pessimist, you can vault yourself into a worst-case scenario in a nanosecond.
Be optimistic and transfer this mindset to your team, your customers and your investors. Even if you don’t have the full tools, work on it and never allow it to hinder your success.
Look at Hamadtou photo and just imagine how a man without arms could play a game mainly depends on arms? He did not just play the game, he excel on world class level to prove that Superhumans do exist.
The key to a successful business is that you never stop learning, in this ever-changing, connected world we live in nowadays, you can never gain enough information.
At any given moment there is something happening somewhere that could impact your business one way or the other. So if you want to keep up, you have to be one step ahead.
Know your weaknesses and strengths and keep working on your weaknesses and nurturing your strengths.
Ibrahim said that “If someone makes it to the Paralympics, they should still keep working hard to make the next Paralympics and to be a champion, not to go backwards”
As should you. When you start your own business, you should only go forward from there, never backwards. Keep innovating and evolving.
Moreover, Ibrahim had to deal with skeptics throughout his life. Here is his explanation;
”Their criticism gave me the chance to practice more and more. I gave more time for practice and this made me feel confident to feel like this,” he said
However, He did not just overcome it, he transcended. He utilized people’s speculations to make him work harder to prove them wrong, that “The disability is not in arms or legs, the disability is to not persevere in whatever you would like to do.” as he said.
6-Appreciate Small Wins and Failures:
How you deal with your failures (If it is even appropriate to call it that) determines where you steer your new business. He did not just practice he competed and won silver medals in the 2013 and 2015 African Championships.
Ibrahim lost against Great Britain’s David Wetherill Who has participated in the Paralympics 3 times, Ibrahim said; “It is my first Paralympic Games, I lost to a very good player; David is amongst the best in the world.” in addition, he expressed utter joy at being in the Paralympic by adding “My dream has come true of playing in the Paralympic Games”
Hamadtou added after his game against David Wetherill “Not all defeats are defeats; sometimes you lose but you actually win because you have added to your experience, you have added to your knowledge; today I added to my knowledge”
Learn from your mistakes, whenever life throws you a curveball, come back up swinging. Keep your eyes on the bigger picture, this is what will keep you moving.
7-Believe in Yourself
On the morning of Thursday 8th September in the group stage of the Men’s Singles Class 6 Group D at the Rio.
Accept that leaving your comfort zone can be painful. Remember that with change comes risk and the very real possibility of pain and some deprivation. Stop making excuses and believe in yourself.
Ibrahim Hamadtou is an extraordinaire. He is a true Paralympian.
Superhumans do exist, and they are Egyptians.