With two gold medals to her name already, Iraqi badminton player Heba Asghar is more determined than ever as she prepares for next year’s Special Olympics for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Still only aged 23 now, Asghar won a gold at the 2015 games in the United States as well as in Greece four years earlier.
And in March, Asghar, who has Down syndrome, will fly the Iraqi flag again at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
Flicking through magazines featuring her daughter’s feats, Asghar’s mother, Souad, said that sport had marked a turning point.
“She was never stable, she was aggressive with family members,” she said, at their Baghdad home.
Then at the age of 10, Asghar started playing table tennis, winning a silver medal at the Special Olympics in Japan, before finding her niche in badminton.
“She worked hard and thanks to that, she overcame her disability, she became a champion and that made her proud,” her mother said.
Her 2015 gold medal victory at the Los Angeles summer Special Olympics earned her a monthly $600 (514-euro) grant from the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Smiling next to a table covered in her awards and newspaper clippings of her achievements, she dreams of more medals to come.
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