Saturday, December 03, 2022 | Jumada al-ula 8, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

The spirit of sportsmanship never faded with disability

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While this young Omani is unable to move his body from the waist down, that doesn’t stop him from creating ripples of positivity in the community and inspiring schools across Oman to be more productive with their time and life.


At 18, Sultan bin Mohammed al Wuhaibi has been in a wheelchair bound and has been plagued with a plethora of challenges including mobility impairment, inability to walk without assistance and difficulty in speaking. Despite this limitation, he was able to do wonders becoming an ambassador of sorts engaging with children and motivating them to become their better selves while also pursuing his passions for sailing, paragliding, swimming, horse riding and other adventures.


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One of his life’s highlights, in fact, was the time he was able to salute the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos from the horse he was riding.


Sultan loves singing and recently he shared the stage with singer Rahma Riad; he is a passionate actor and has acted in a play and an episode on YouTube. He is an ardent fan of FC Barcelona and Seeb Club. He dreams of becoming a champion in sailing to complete his studies abroad in the United States to appear in a television series, and get a gym chair so that he can do workouts in a gym.


“I have dreams to fulfil. Play football, become a globally renowned sailor and be the pride of my country, the Sultanate of Oman,” a joyful Sultan spoke to the Observer during his training at the Oman Sail.


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Sultan was born to a family as the third child of four siblings and grew up as a normal child in good health and was pampered because he was the first boy after two girls for his parents. His sisters vied with each other in playing with him as he started more active and moving.


But things changed when he was about nine months old and during a family gathering, Sultan walked using a baby walker towards the outer stairs but lost his grip and fell from the stairs. Although it was a light fall and he was not injured, he was taken to the hospital immediately and medical examinations were conducted for him. He was discharged on the same night after the doctor reassured him that his condition was good and there was no problem. Sultan did not show any symptoms during the following days. But after a week, Sultan began to be lazy and his activities diminished and showed signs of being lacklustre and unwilling to stand, and started to make moaning sounds from time to time.


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The journey of his long treatment process began after reviews and examinations in the hospitals inside the Sultanate of Oman, which confirmed that Sultan did not have an apparent problem and as all the tests were normal, the family decided to take him outside the Sultanate of Oman.


The first destination was a hospital in Mumbai, India where the doctors’ diagnosed that it was perhaps the fear psychosis due to Sultan’s fear of falling again and that he will get over it in some time.


His grandfather loved him very much and he decided to take him to Thailand where Sultan’s parents were told that there was no apparent problem in the examinations that could be treated, and in such cases, his life may be short and his condition may become worse. The family returned from Thailand, with a heavy heart, sadness, despair and fear, and the family looked at Sultan who was by then, unable to get up and remained in a state of extreme laziness.


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After a while, Sultan was taken to a hospital in Germany, a hospital specialised for children in cases like Sultan, and after conducting the tests, the doctors reported that Sultan might have hit his head in the fall and some brain functions might have been affected which did not appear in the x-rays. They also assured the family that there is a possibility that Sultan would return to his activity after a while, or perhaps his condition might also get worse, but the doctor expected that Sultan would be better, as he said after a period of observing Sultan, “I am sure that Sultan will defeat this disease in one way or another. I see him as a fighting child who loves life.”


Sultan was one year old then, and his family started a physiotherapy journey and at the same time did not stop looking for treatment. His mother made every effort to find the best place for physiotherapy within the Sultanate of Oman, and his father was interested in searching for treatment outside the Sultanate of Oman.


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At the age of four, Sultan joined the Early Intervention Society school which provided everyone with great support. However, this society accepts students up to the age of 6 years, and after Sultan reached 6 his parents faced the problem of moving him to another school.


They were unable to find a suitable school for him that is available for study and treatment and most public or private schools did not have services for people with special needs. After he was registered in a private school, which accepted him on many conditions, including the provision of a special worker who would be with him while he was at the school, the family accepted that despite the family’s financial situation.


His family began researching and communicating with other hospitals outside the Sultanate of Oman, and most of them responded with the same opinion. Finally, they got positive feedback from St. Louis Children’s Hospital in America that his condition can be corrected with ‘Selective Root Severation’ and that it will benefit him very much.


For this, he would need to be in the hospital for two weeks, then physical therapy for two months. The family decided to take Sultan to this hospital, and his grandfather, who always took care of him, provided him with all possible support and took care of this trip.


After Sultan’s return from the US, his condition improved and he was able to stand and walk with the help of a crutch. The biggest advice to him from the doctor was to continue physical therapy and to continue moving, walking, and practising any sport. He advised him to ride a horse and engage more in sports activities. That was the beginning of the sportsman in Sultan who began to participate in sports, and the first sport was horse riding where the horse riding therapy programme was launched and Sultan was one of the first to participate in it and the rest is history. In 2022, Sultan was enrolled to study at Suhail bin Omar School, which provided him with great support, especially from the school director, who was always encouraging and motivating Sultan. The school welcomed him at the airport as a hero in a group of recipients headed by Hajjiya al Said. Sultan became a part of the ‘Sail Free’ programme with Oman Sail, which opened new horizons for him and helped him to acquire new knowledge, especially if he found himself free to sail freely, getting rid of his restrictions to move his sail to reach his goals. Today, Sultan’s ambitions see no limits. He wants to be a leading motivational speaker in the region, a hero for other young people, whether ordinary or people with disabilities to challenge all difficulties. Sultan loves to follow successful and famous people on social media, and this matter brought him wide fame, and this helped him to gain new friends in various countries of the world. His followers on his Instagram page requested him to continue his treatment and study and acquire new skills. Sultan receives messages on his account from people who follow him for Sultan has helped them with his spirit and determination to succeed by overcoming many difficulties.


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