LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 12 – United Arab Emirates para-athlete Abdullah Hayayei has died following a training incident casting a pall over the World Para-athletics championships which begin in London on Friday. He was 36.
Hayayei, who was set to compete in the shot put, discus and javelin F34 events, suffered the fatal injury while training in London on Tuesday.
Although the emergency services were called, he was pronounced dead at the scene — those that witnessed the tragedy have been offered counselling.
“Police, London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance were called shortly after 17:00hrs (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, 11 July, to reports of a seriously injured man at Newham Leisure Centre,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement sent to AFP.
“The man was pronounced dead at the scene at 17:20hrs. At this early stage, it is believed the man was struck by a metal pole which formed part of training facilities at the centre.
“The man was a competitor at the World Para Athletic Championships being held in London. His next of kin have been informed.”
The training venue — one of two allocated to the athletes — has been closed while police pursue their investigation.
According to Majid Rashed, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, the father of five died as a result of the throwing cage collapsing onto him.
“I can say the throwing cage collapsed on the athlete’s head,” he said.
“We don’t have any more information about how that happened, what was the reason, or what the details are.”
Philip Craven, long-time chairman of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) but who is stepping down later this year, said it was devastating news.
There were discussions as to whether to postpone the opening of the championships but it was decided to go ahead as planned and the UAE team are also willing to compete.
“We are all truly devastated by this tragic news and the passing of Abdullah,” he said.
“The thoughts, prayers and condolences of the whole Paralympic Movement are with Abdullah’s family, friends and teammates as well as the whole of the National Paralympic Committee of the UAE.
“We are all in a state of shock at this terrible tragedy.”
Hayayei competed at the 2015 world championships in Doha, finishing fifth in the discus F34 and eighth in shot put F34, as well as in last year’s Paralympics, finishing sixth in the javelin F34 and seventh in shot put F34.
A moment of silence will be held in honour of Hayayei during Friday’s opening ceremony at London Stadium.