National pride
A Tunisian man wears the national flag as he stands on Bourguiba avenue in Tunis. © Lionel Bonaventure - AFP
National pride
Meriem Dhaouadi
Last updated: September 13, 2012

Paralympics triumph brings pride to Tunisia

Amid the endless highly politicized debates that bring tension to the Tunisian streets, the national team‘s single best Paralympics performance ever was more than enough to boost the country ‘s spirit.

Disabled Tunisian athletes brought home 19 medals: 9 gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze medals, ranking the small North African country at 14thin the overall medal count. The Tunisian team did not disappoint, unlike the performance at the London Olympics, as they moved past countries like France, Canada, Japan and Switzerland.

“We are extremely proud of our athletes,” commented many Tunisians on social media outlets as the Tunisian heroes came back home on Tuesday.

Despite the modest resources secured for the Tunisian paralympians, they managed to stand as number one amongst the Arab countries with Algeria second, ranked 26th, followed by Egypt at 28thplace and then Morocco at 37th. The achievement of the Tunisian athletes comes against a backdrop of long held disillusionment with national sport.

Tunisian women shined in the London games. Marwa Ibrahimi, who participated for the first time in the Paralympics, won Tunisia‘s first gold medal in the women‘s club throw and opened the gate to more triumphs. Raoua Tlili won the gold in the discus throw, while Nada Behi won the 400 meters race for the visually impaired.

Waving the Tunisian flag and cheerful banners, Tunisian supporters, friends, family members and representatives of the government came to the airport in Tunis to greet the team and celebrate the nation’s pride.

While displaying their medals, the Tunisian heroes once again brought hope that the North African country can not only topple dictators and trigger political change but also give birth to winners in the battle for sporting glory.

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