Ismail Zulfic (C) receives training at the Olympic Pool Otoka in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), on March 21, 2019. Eight-year-old Ismail Zulfic from Bosnia and Herzegovina was born without both arms, and with one deformed leg – yet his successes in the swimming pool have made him an inspiration for many. (Xinhua/Nedim Grabovica)
SARAJEVO, March 22 (Xinhua) — Eight-year-old Ismail Zulfic from Bosnia and Herzegovina was born without both arms, and with one deformed leg – yet his successes in the swimming pool have made him an inspiration for many.
Just three years ago, in March 2016, Ismail was afraid of water, his coach Amel Kapo told Xinhua, adding that Ismail ran away crying after touching the water with his leg.
But with active swimming classes, just one year later, Ismail won his first gold medal at a competition in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, swimming 50 meters.
From a boy who had a phobia of water and who actively uses only one limb while swimming, Ismail became a hero of the nation, as many like to call him.
“In the last two years, 80 percent of Ismail’s medals are gold ones, and rest are silver,” Kapo said, adding that numerous international sporting experts have stated that Ismail could be one of the world’s best sportsmen in this category.
In 2017, as a six-year-old, Ismail was awarded the most promising sportsman in Bosnia at a national selection of athletes with disabilities.
Together with his parents, Ismail travels twice a week from city of Zenica, some 70 kilometers northwest of the capital Sarajevo, to enjoy his favorite pastime of swimming.
Ismail has great confidence in himself, but also in his coach, and this is best represented by Ismail saying that he would jump from the 24-meter-high Old Bridge in the city of Mostar if his coach would catch him.
In February 2016, Kapo officially started giving free swimming lessons to people with disabilities, being the first and the only coach in the country to do so.
Kapo says that his first meeting with Ismail was in March 2016. “I was very nervous since I had not previously met a small boy without both arms, but all the time I identified myself with him,” Kapo said, adding that he himself was hiding his arms in order to make everything easier for Ismail.
“For a child who does not have both arms, it is of tremendous importance to have confidence in his coach, especially while entering the water,” Kapo explained, adding that the partnership will continue for many years and that he is happy to continue being Ismail’s coach.