Fehaid Al-Deehani’s historic achievement goes beyond being the greatest accomplishment in the history of Kuwait’s sports; both in individual and team competitions.
Despite Kuwait being suspended from participating in the 2016 Olympics, a number of Kuwaiti athletes still participated as independent athletes. Some of them received sponsorship from private companies in Kuwait, but not Deehani, who opted to pay for his own trip to Rio and pursue his goal of winning the gold medal. He is the first Kuwaiti athlete to ever bring home a gold. Previously, the veteran Olympian won bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2012 London Olympics respectively.
That was just one of many adversities that Deehani and other Kuwaiti athletes went through in their journey. Yet, he was able to overcome all obstacles, compete at the highest level of competition and climb his way to the top of the mountain at the grandest stage.
This achievement comes at a very crucial time for Kuwait, in which much hope is pinned on its people and their potential as the country’s most valuable asset. Not only does Deehani’s feat provide a motivation for young athletes and young people in Kuwait in general, but it also serves as proof that with enough determination and hard work, success can be achieved – whether you have government support or not. Furthermore, it shows that when the opportunity presents itself, Kuwaitis are also willing to take all challenges head-on and not only succeed in what they do, but also excel at it.
Deehani’s gold medal is a source of pride and inspiration not only for people in Kuwait and the Gulf region, but also the entire Arab World. Defeatism, hopelessness, frustration and despair overwhelm a large segment of young men and women in the Arab World today. Many of them have lost hope and believe that no matter how hard they try, the ‘system’ is just not designed to give them any chance to succeed. But with this gold medal, Deehani how shown that once you set your eyes on a certain goal and be willing to make the extra effort, nothing can stand in your way to success – not even failure or backstage politics.
Deehani had all the reasons not to be successful. No one could probably blame him had he not participated in the Olympics to begin with. Yet, here he is today, not only competing against the best athletes the world has to offer, but also emerging victorious and bringing home the gold.
Kuwait can be very proud though it is more than unfortunate that the first ever Olympic gold medal a Kuwaiti has won will never be listed under Kuwait’s name in the official records. However, there is no time for Kuwait to feel sad. Instead, Kuwait is filled with pride knowing that the whole world now knows the true potential of its people, and what they are really capable of. And that cannot change, regardless of what flag is raised at the end of the day.
By Ahmad Jabr