A blind Israeli runner will travel to London this month to join thousands taking part in the city’s world-famous marathon.
Father of six, Avi Solomon, 36, has not stopped running since he lost his sight more than 17 years ago.
He hopes the 26.2 mile course from Blackheath to The Mall will be a stop on the route to the Paralympics in Tokyo next summer.
“When I run, I feel like there’s no end to the world. Everything is open,” Solomon told Jewish News while finalising his training.
“I feel, and can show others via my running, that obstacles can become challenges if we only choose to see them that way – it’s true for every one of us,” he said.
The elite runner hopes to inspire his children and anyone who may be tackling challenges.
“It’s very much about inspiring my children and that for me is an essential thing,” he said. “I wish to inspire other people especially if they have any types of challenges.”
Solomon, who receives support and training from professional coaches and volunteers, runs up to 15 kilometers every morning despite juggling several precarious jobs to sustain his family.
He will be undertaking his first complete marathon this April and says it’s a dream come true to be travelling to London.
“I’ve never been to London before, and I know that London is the capital of sport and it’s a dream come true for me to be able to come,” he says.
“It’s like closing the loop because I am going to visit the country that helped build our country,” he added. “The relationship between Israel and the UK is very strong and I am honoured to be part of representing Israel.”
Solomon first began losing his sight at the age of six, following an infection he contracted while he was living in a village on the outskirts of Gondar in Ethiopia.
His sight came back temporarily following surgery on both eyes when he was 14, but it gradually deteriorated.
Solomon underwent another operation replacing both eyes in Israel at age 14 after moving to Ramla but he says: “My eyesight got worse and worse and I became blind and completely unable to tell the difference between light and dark.”
He will be taking on the London Marathon on April 28 with his coach Daniel Ishta, and Ari goldsmith and Lior Berhano who will take turns running while connected to him at the wrist.
“I would like to thank the team that are coming with me and my British friend Justine Zwerling,”he said.
“I would also like to thanks all the generous people and volunteers who have made this possible: the Afikim Foundation, Precise Financial Management Services led by Nir Yerushalmi, and many other good people in Israel and around the world.
“A huge thanks to my amazing family, my incredible wife, and my father. My mum passed away 19 years ago so my father raised us all on his own.”
To help Solomon realise his dream of running in the 2020 Paralympic games in Tokyo, you can donate money on here.