UAE Paralympic athlete dies during training

A UAE Paralympic athlete has died after being struck by a metal pole while on a training ground in London, according to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).  

In a statement, the IPC said that Abdullah Hayayei, 36, was training at Newham Leisure Centre on Tuesday evening when the event took place. He was training in preparation for the World Para Athletics Championships London 2017, which begins on Friday. 

According to the Metropolitan Police spokesman, “at this early stage, it is believed the man was struck by a metal pole which formed part of training facilities at the centre.” 

The IPC noted that emergency services were called shortly after 5 PM, and that police, London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance responded. Hayayei was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:20. The IPC’s statement added that Hayeyei’s family in the UAE has been informed, and that the UAE team was brought together at the team’s hotel to be informed of the news. 

“We are all truly devastated by this tragic news and the passing of Abdullah. The thoughts, prayers and condolences of the whole Paralympic Movement are with Abdullah’s family, friends and teammates, as well as the whole National Paralympic Committee of the UAE,” said IPC President Philip Craven. “We are all in a state of shock at this terrible tragedy.” 

Ed Warner, the co-chair of London 2017, said that “this is a devastating event and everyone within the London 2017 Organising Committee is shocked and saddened.” 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Abdullah’s family and teammates at what is undoubtedly a very difficult time for them,” he added. “We will be working closely with all the competitors and teams over the days ahead to offer support wherever is needed.” 

The Chairperson of the IPC Athletes Council, Chelsey Gotell, said that the Paralympic athlete community is coming together “to celebrate the joy of sport but we also come together as a family to mourn during the most difficult of times.” 

“On behalf of all Paralympic athletes, we would like to extend our unwavering love and support to his family, teammates, friends and the NPC of the United Arab Emirates,” Gotell added. 

Hayayei made his Paralympic debut last September at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where he finished sixth in the javelin F34 and seventh in shot put F34. 

London was slated to be Hayayei’s second World Championships, following his participation at the 2015 in Doha, Qatar, in which he finished fifth in the discus F34, eighth in shot put F34. In London, he was set to compete in the shot put, discus, and javelin F34 events. 

According to the IPC, a moment of silence in honour of Hayayei’s death will be held during London 2017’s opening ceremony at London stadium on Friday. 

The IPC and London 2017 Organising Committee are expected to hold a press conference later on Wednesday.