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Yemen NOC mourns loss of wushu star Helal Al-Hajj

Date : 30 Sep 2019

Sanaa, Yemen, September 30, 2019: Helal Ali Al-Hajj, Yemeni wushu medallist, has drowned while attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter Spain in a small refugee boat.

The Yemeni Kung Fu champion’s body was found in Melilla on September 18 at the end of a hazardous journey from Morocco.

Helal, who was a specialist in wushu, participated at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, and won a bronze medal in the Islamic Solidarity Games of 2017.

A friend who attempted the dangerous crossing with the athlete survived after he swam to safety when both were dropped off in the water close to the coastline.

Older brother Saeed said Helal had waited two months in Morocco before attempting the crossing. Saeed was quoted by UK publication Metro as saying: “It was a short distance. People before him have tried and succeeded. My brother was athletic but tragedy struck and he was swept away by a powerful wave.”

The Yemen Olympic Committee mourned the death of its star athlete and said they were “sorrowful and sad", adding that "Helal was in the protection of God”.

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