Syrian wheelchair table tennis player building ‘new home’ in Canada


    Inside Dima Al-Dahouk’s Hamilton house, one large object almost fills the lounge: a table tennis table.

    It is a Friday afternoon and the award-winning para-athlete is coaching together with her coach. Clad in a black tracksuit and a tightly wrapped hijab, Al-Dahouk maintains a hawk-like gaze on the whizzing white ball. With one skilful stroke after one other, she retains it flying throughout the table — forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards. 

    “Whether or not I’m upset or glad, I wish to play this sport,” she says later in Arabic. “It releases all types of vitality.”

    After fleeing her wartorn homeland of Syria, Al-Dahouk arrived in Canada in 2017. It was the beginning of a brand new chapter following a lifetime of wrestle and perseverance, each for her household and her athletic profession — and now, supporters listed here are fundraising to assist her proceed taking part in the game that is been her ardour for greater than a decade.

    The married mom of two has been dwelling with a incapacity since botched surgical procedure, following a automotive accident, when she was three years previous. Whereas there was little assist for disabilities in Syria, Al-Dahouk did not let that cease her from pursuing sports activities. First powerlifting, then table tennis in 2006, grew to become her shops.

    For a decade, she was a champion wheelchair table tennis player in Syria.

    However when struggle broke out in 2011, she and her husband — who additionally makes use of a wheelchair — fled their house in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus. The pair hurriedly took their two kids first to a resort, then a shelter, then to neighbouring Turkey.

    Lastly final 12 months, they arrived in Canada, which supplied the household a “new house and a very good life,” Al-Dahouk says.

    In July 2017, Al-Dahouk competed in her first Canadian match, the Butterfly Canadian Championships, successful gold in the doubles and a silver in singles. (Submitted by Dima Al-Dahouk)

    ‘Touched by her spirit’

    Al-Dahouk shortly returned to the game she beloved. In July 2017, she competed in her first Canadian match, the Butterfly Canadian Championships, successful a gold in the doubles and a silver in singles.

    Now, Al-Dahouk and her supporters in Canada need to take issues a step additional.

    At a latest newcomer occasion in Hamilton, Al-Dahouk met a table tennis coach visiting from China. Since then, Li Ying has been serving to her new protégé hone her expertise — a feat achieved though Ying speaks Mandarin, and Al-Dahouk largely Arabic.

    “I used to be touched by her spirit,” Ying says, by way of a translator.

    Al-Dahouk lately met a table tennis coach visiting from China. Since then, Li Ying has been serving to her new protégé hone her expertise. (Grant Linton/CBC Information)

    The Syrian Canadian Basis can be fundraising $10,000 to assist sponsor Al-Dahouk at native and worldwide tournaments, beginning with the September 2018 Canadian Para Championships in Markham.

    “From the minute I met her I knew she’s an unbelievable human being,” says Bayan Kahtib, the muse’s government director, including the group ultimately hopes Al-Dahouk can take part in the Paralympics.

    As she continues her table tennis profession, Al-Dahouk additionally hopes to provide again — one serve at a time.

    “I want to assist individuals who have a incapacity play table tennis, and play sports activities, and alter their lives,” she says.



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