RIYADH: A former soldier in the Saudi Arabian National Guard has become a professional archer, winning a number of competitions and awards despite competing with a disability sustained in a terror attack.
Mohammed Al-Shami picked up the sport of archery after losing his right hand in a terrorist attack in 2007 that forced his retirement.
He was treated at King Saud Medical City and was sent to the Rehabilitation Hospital at King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh.
But Al-Shami’s physical disability failed to dent his positive outlook on life.
Ambition cannot stop in the face of “minor problems,” he told Arab News. Instead, Al-Shami believes that problems can give purpose and make people stronger.
Every day, Al-Shami, who usesa prosthetic hand, wakes up with a smile and spreads positivity.
His journey in archery commenced when he registered for the Kingdom Marathon at King Saud University.
“Captain Mishaal Al-Otaibi was explaining to visitors how to shoot … so I went to him and told him I wanted to try it. He looked at me and said ‘come later,’” Al-Shami said.
After waiting for three hours, Al-Shami again went to the captain, who told him to return once more after two hours.
When Al-Shami went back for the second time, he asked the captain: “Can handicapped people throw arrows or not?”
Al-Otaibi then gave a bow and arrow to the former guardsman and told him: “Go ahead, shoot.”
Al-Shami said: “I put the bowstring between my teeth, pulled it and threw it hard, and it settled in the middle of the target, in the bullseye. The captain was impressed. He then taught me how to develop my abilities.”
During the course of his rigorous training, Al-Shami shot 1,000 –1,200 arrows per day to improve his accuracy and technique.
He took part in the 2017 World Championships in Athletics for People with Disabilities at the Dubai Club for People of Determination, winning a gold medal.
Al-Shami also won gold and silver medals at the Sheikh Fazza Championship in the UAE in 2019.
His determination earned him third place in archery in the Kingdom’s My Disability Distinguishes evemt in 2022.
Al-Shami said that archery is the only sport that gives him determination and strengthens his focus.
In the future, he aspires to establish a charitable sports center for archery and taekwondo, where people of all ages can learn the basics of the sports and build bright futures for themselves.
“My biggest professional project is to help put Vision 2030 into action by building the biggest and most ambitious investment and charitable sports center. This will be a one-of-a-kind project with the goal of spreading and graduating professional teams in archery and taekwondo.”
Al-Shami hailed a 2019 decision by the Saudi Paralympic Committee to promote archery for people with disabilities around the Kingdom.