Avi Solomon, a 32-year-old resident of Beit Shemesh, told Arutz Sheva on Sunday about his incredible story and his dream to represent Israel in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics – even though he is blind.
Solomon tragically lost his eyesight at the age of 16 due to glaucoma, but he hasn't let his blindness stop him from pursuing his dreams of being a world-class runner.
He holds the Israeli record time for running 1,500 meters (just under a mile), and specializes in medium distances. Despite being blind, he is closer than ever to meeting the criterion for the 1,500 meter run in the 2016 Olympics.
According to Solomon he has loved sports all his life, ever since he can remember himself as a small child growing up in a village in Ethiopia. As a youth he made great achievements in running after making Aliyah to Israel, and represented his high school – but then his eyesight began to disappear.
However, his passion for sports did not fade with his vision, and for the next 11 years he played on the Israeli national team for goalball, a team sport for blind athletes developed in 1946 to help World War II veterans who had lost their sight.
Later on Solomon returned to running on a professional basis, and began taking part in national competitions. In the last three years he began taking on international competitions as well.
Then in May 2015, Solomon represented Israel in the International Blind Sports Federation world championship in Seoul, South Korea, accompanied by Israeli marathon record-holder Ayele Seteng.
His very participation in the prestigious event is the record of Solomon's running career to this point – and it is all thanks to his fierce dedication in sticking to a strict training regimen and making trips to training camps abroad.
Despite the difficulties of integrating his professional training schedule with his obligations of family life and work, Solomon dreams of taking part in the Rio Olympics this September, and is training fiercely for the 1,500 meter run. He is even considering taking on the 5,000 meter (just over three miles) run as well.
Solomon is a full time family man in addition to being a professional runner.
In order to provide for his family, he works at three separate jobs: he is a guide for groups at "Dialogue in the Dark" at the Israeli Children's Museum in Holon, a waiter at the "Black Out" restaurant in the "Please Touch" center in Yafo, and he likewise lectures for students and other groups about his unique life story and how he is overcoming blindness.