Abdennour Elfedayni, Morocco, is the team leader of the Morocco Para-Taekwondo Demonstration Team which awed the audience at the opening ceremony of the World Championship held last year in Moscow, Russia. MasTKD talked to him and told us about his daily activities, his life and dreams.
I think we should start by knowing a little more about your disability.
Sure, my disability is congenital, since I was born without both arms.
When and why did you decide to enter the Taekwondo?
It was in 2000 when I was told of an academy of Taekwondo. I visited the academy and when I saw kids practicing Taekwondo, I loved it.
How is a normal day in Abdennour´s life?
Every morning I get up very early to go to work in the Municipality in Passport Services. I work in a cubicle with a computer, which I operate perfectly using my feet. I leave the office at 16:30 hours. From 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., I do my training sessions every single day. When we have a show, we prepared it one month in advance and we sometimes train more than twice a day. In addition to this, I also give quality time to the greatest gift life has given me, my daughter Rodaina.
What story or anecdote would you like to share with our readers?
I remember once when we had a presentation in a distant city of Morocco, everything went fine but when we returned to our city, 15 kilometers to reach our destination, our car ran out of gasoline. We tried to push it around 3 kilometers, but the complicated thing about this is that the ones that were pushing the car were, two men without one leg, a blind man and myself! the only person without a disability was our coach, Hicham El Atlassi. Imagine how complicated it was.
Finally someone helped us getting gasoline at a station. After eight hours we reached our homes. It was quite a journey.
How the idea of a Demonstration Team begins?
The idea began in ’99, when Faycal Lahssaini who doesn´t have an arm, and Azzimani Mohammed who is blind, were training in the academy which I joined later. It was a team where most did not have any disability, but we were part of it.
In 2012, we created our “Challenge and Persistence for Persons with Special Abilities” association and obviously we gave priority to our skills, performing shows with humanitarian messages, and so we continued doing about 10 shows a year in different countries, including Tunisia, Spain, Russia and Austria.
How was your experience at the World Para-Taekwondo Championships last year? Did you ever imagine you’d be competing at that level?
It was a phenomenal experience, full of challenges because we were honored to participate a demonstration team and as a Kyorugi team. This was thanks to the support of Dr. Choue, WTF President and Olof Hansson, because they believed in us to collaborate with our small part on the inclusion of Para-Taekwondo in the Paralympic program.
I reiterate my thanks to the WTF since if it were not for them I would not have had the opportunity to get to the podium in a world championships and get the bronze. We did it without any support from our country´s government.
Have you seen the evolution of Para-Taekwondo?
Everything I’ve dreamed has been carried out. I remember that I spoke several times with Olof, about the ranking and about becoming a Paralympic sport and it really happened. I still dream to see more athletes and more countries involved in Para-Taekwondo and thus have more competitions to further develop our discipline and obtain the sponsors´support to get our Paralympic dream.
Para-Taekwondo is now part of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic core sports program. What are your goals?
We have the dream to make a demonstration during the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. Another goal is to continue developing Para-Taekwondo in Morocco. Also, I encourage all WTF member national associations to search for people with disabilities to practice Taekwondo, so we can show the world what we can do together.
And of course, I hope that Morocco can get a medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games.
What do you plan to do when you finish you career as an athlete?
I want to become a coach. I want to build and direct a huge traing center for athletes with disabilities and also I want to become the president of the Para-Taekwondo Moroccan Federation to help with my experience.
What message would you like to send to the Taekwondo community?
I urge all who have disabilities to join Para-Taekwondo. And all, who are already enjoying this beautiful sport, invite people with dibalitities to practice Taekwondo and be part of this great family because we are one, one big family.
I also take this opportunity to remind those who want to present our show in their events, that we are willing to be part of them and hope to receive their invitations.
Furthermore I want to ask Dr. Choue in a very humble and courteous way to consider designating our team as the “Para-Taekwondo Demo Official Team” and be present in the most important events related to Para-Taekwondo.
Finally, I want to thank MasTKD for giving me the opportunity to share with your readers part of my life and my dreams. Thanks also for supporting Para-Taekwondo