Sunday, September 02, 2012
Abdi Jama of Team GB's Paralympic basketball team
Abdi Jama is the kind of guy you cannot dislike. He plays wheelchair basketball with a smile on his face and values every second of his career.
For in his childhood, all was not quite so promising for young Abdi, one of 32 children fathered in Somalia by his dad, who had five wives.
His family fled war-torn Somalia when Abdi was six, heading for Liverpool, where he is still based now, and proud he indeed is of his Merseyside upbringing.
He admitted to me yesterday he had thought his bronze medal-winning triumph with the team in Beijing four years ago would be the highlight of his career. Not so.
The home crowds have only served to spur on GB, who lost their opening two matches but returned to form with a superb 81-41 win over Colombia last night at the North Greenwich Arena.
And Jama looks every inch a man seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, playing with a smile on his face and urging on his team-mates.
He found wheelchair basketball when a freak accident saw him fall out of a window, injuring his spine to such an extent that he was confined to a wheelchair.
His dreams of becoming a footballer over, he met Ade Orogbemi, a member of the GB team, when he visited Jama’s school to demonstrate the sport. He loved it almost immediately.
Now, he finds himself battling for a medal in his home Games. Should he return north without one, he will still treasure his memories of the opportunity of a lifetime.
He is the sort of guy who makes watching the Paralympics a joy: someone who got a second chance and took it with both hands.