Man takes gold in ice skating event despite paralysis

ACHIEVEMENT Coach Paul Crocker, left, with Amonn Al-Mahrouq at Gosport Ice Rink. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131524-1)
ACHIEVEMENT Coach Paul Crocker, left, with Amonn Al-Mahrouq at Gosport Ice Rink. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131524-1)
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A DISABLED ice skater has wowed judges at an inclusive competition, winning gold after just over a year of training.

Amonn Al-Mahrouq, 36, of Eastern Parade, in Southsea, won his class despite suffering from paralysis on his right side.

He took on competitors from across the globe, able and disabled, in the level two free dance and technical class.

He said: ‘I’m going to back next year and I’m going to win at the next level.

‘I come here ice skating every day.

‘I did ice skating as a kid when I was eight or nine, but not for long.

‘I didn’t give up – I didn’t have the energy, and then I went into music.

‘But then a year-and-a-half ago I brought a friend ice skating.’

Amonn’s lack of energy is certainly not laziness.

It stems from his ventricular septal defect – better known as a hole in the heart.

He was kept in hospital for nearly two years after he was born, and was temporarily blind and paralysed.

Doctors only operated on the hole in the heart when he was strong enough at two years old.

He has suffered a lack of energy throughout his life, sorted only after he had further surgery to install a defibrillator following a heart attack in 2007.

That left him with the partial paralysis he has today.

But none of this stopped the highly accomplished musician in the competition in Dumfries, Scotland, last month.

He said his motivation to train at the ice rink in Gosport, off Forest Way, came from his role as a drummer in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He said: ‘I went on to do all four opening and closing ceremonies.

‘I’d started ice skating before that, a couple of months before, but I didn’t take it seriously until after the Olympics.

‘I was more inspired by the people here, as well as the Olympics.

‘The social side here is good as well, I have a lot of new friends.’

Paul Crocker, a coach who took three others to the competition, said he had to adapt his coaching.

He said: ‘Amonn gets frustrated quite easily, so it’s trying to keep him calm and say we will get through this.

‘In terms of coaching, it’s just figuring out what I need to say, exactly the right words.

‘Sometimes I say you need to lean right and he’ll lean left – things like that get swapped over.’