Israeli-Arab swimmer Iyad Shalabi is a real-life superhero. His life is ridden with obstacles, which any ordinary person would find difficult to cope with. But the 34-year-old Paralympic swimmer from Shfar’am must be made of different material.
Shalabi was born with deafness and muteness disabilities -- just like his twin brother.
His father, who is currently with him in Tokyo, told the Paralympic Committee that when Iyad was 7, he fell from a roof on a concrete floor during a family event and was left paralyzed in his lower body after breaking his vertebrae in the back.
The child underwent a long rehabilitation process as his father never let go of his sight.
At the age of 13, the father took him to swimming lessons in a pool in Kiryat Haim. This is where the long journey of Iyad began, involving three Paralympic Games, including this one in Tokyo where he won for the first time the gold medal at the end of the 100 meter backstroke.