Maha Barghouti, the first athlete to put Jordan on the International sporting map, a gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, has decided to end her sporting career after almost 30 years.
For Jordan and the sporting world Barghouti is a legend. She has qualified to and taken part in five Paralympic Games (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016).
Maha Barghouti is a name no Jordanian can forget. The disabled athlete was the first to win a gold medal and hoist Jordan’s flag, not on the Asian level, but at the highest sporting congregation — the Paralympics — organized in parallel with the Olympic Games.
In an exclusive interview with The Jordan Times, an emotional Barghouti discussed her sporting career. Often teary-eyed at the thought it would all be history soon, she underscored how sports had given her a life. “I proved I existed despite all the obstacles,” she said, noting people’s look had changed from ‘pity’ to ‘help’ to ‘champ’. That’s what sports did for me, and I will be forever grateful.”
To underscore the significance of her achievements, it is worthy to note that ever since 1980 when Jordan first took part in the Olympic Games the Kingdom’s national anthem was first played in Sydney 2000 when Barghouti won the gold medal at the Paralympics in wheelchair table tennis. That honor was repeated again only this past summer when Jordan won its first ever Olympic medal — an honour was made possible by Ahmad Abu Ghaush — a 20-year old who came in top spot in taekwondo’s 68-kilogramme category.
With over 200 nations competing, making Olympic history by winning gold is no easy feat. However, Barghouti and her disabled teammates have always been competitive and won multiple medals in Europe and Asia.