Blind swimmer wins four gold medals for Spain

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Spain earns 58 medals total in the Beijing Paralympics.

18 September 2008

MADRID – 21-year-old swimmer Enhamed Enhamed Yahdih is the son of Western Saharan immigrants, and at eight years of age degenerative congenital retinitis left him blind. The year after he lost his vision permanently, he started swimming.

On Wednesday Enhamed won four of Spain's 15 gold medals in the Beijing Paralympics. Enhamed was chosen to carry the Spanish flag in Wednesday's Paralympic closing ceremony, an hour-long event in the Beijing Bird's Nest stadium ending 11 days of competition of the world's best physically disabled athletes.

Enhamed took the top prize in four of the five events he raced in, drawing comparisons to US swimmer Michael Phelps, who in August won a record eight Olympic gold medals.

The Spaniard's golds came in the 50- 100- and 400-metre freestyle events, besides a fourth in the 100-metre butterfly. He also broke two world records along the way.

"I still haven't stopped to think about what I've done. I suppose one of these days the realisation will come, because until this moment, I haven't let myself relax", the swimmer admitted after winning his last medal.

Beijing was not Enhamed's first Paralympics. At 17, Enhamed took two bronze medals in Athens. He also plans to compete in the London 2012 Paralympics.

"I am going to keep training, but perhaps a young guy that swims faster will come along", he explained.

Enhamed is responsible for more than a quarter of Spain's gold-medal wins.

Female swimmer María Teresa Perales, who has been paralysed from the waist down for more than 20 years, added five medals of her own, three golds, a bronze and a silver.

Nine of Spain's total of 58 medals can be accredited to the two athletes. The Beijing Water Cube was the scene of the nation's strongest Paralympic successes, serving as the backdrop for 31 Spanish medals.

In the tallies, the country's 15 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze medals put Spain in 10th place overall.

Along with swimming, Spanish cyclists also racked up three gold, five silver and three bronze medals, earning fifth place overall in the category.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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