“Our destinies are in our hands”

Paralympians with polio

20120910_WasiuYusuf
Wasiu Yusuf on a mission. Nigeria. Wheelchair Tennis UNICEF / Anjali Kaur

Wasiu Yusuf was born to play sport. He’s a driving force behind Nigeria’s fast-improving wheelchair tennis team, and hopes to be a driving force behind the global campaign to wipe out polio.

“I got polio because my parents never vaccinated me,” he says. “Polio vaccination is not about religion. It’s about protecting your child’s health.”,

Wasiu contracted polio at the age of four. Sport became his way of engaging with the world. He describes himself as a multi-talented sportsman, as he also plays wheelchair table tennis and basketball at an elite level.

“There were times I did not have money for transportation and some other times I had to train on an empty stomach. But things are better for me now. My coach tells us that our destinies are in our hands, that we can determine who we want to become.”

Tennis, though, is his first love.

“It has really shaped my life,” he recently told a journalist. “I really love the game because it has brought me great joy, and the fact that I’ve achieved a lot.

View the gallery of portraits and stories of Paralympians with polio.

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