“When I’m on the course, I don’t feel disabled, I simply see in front of me and don’t look back.”
Adem Wahbi – tough love and second chances
With a smile that can light up even the darkest room, an impish sense of fun, and a finely tuned competitive spirit, Adem Wahbi is indeed one of the sports finest young talents. Ask Adam about what golf means to him, look him in the eye when he responds, and it is hard not to be impressed by the straightforward honesty which capitalises his words. “When I am on the course, I don’t feel disabled, I simply see in front of me and don’t look back.”
Adem is from a family of tennis enthusiasts, but running around the court with a leg condition was not so easy for him. Luckily he saw golf for the first time while on holiday in Morocco. The ball was still, he thought he could prepare himself to play a shot, he could even use his sticks if necessary. What he didn’t realise on his first exposure to the game, was just how it would hook him into a sport which has now become central to the way he lives.
Unusually Adem started to play golf on a simulator in the basement of a hotel near his home Rhode-Saint-Genèse. Soon he found a golf course nearby Golf 7 fontaines where he could start to develop the formative skills which over the intervening years he has finely tuned. Watch Adem position himself to the ball just before he swings the club, and one could be forgiven for thinking or asking, “what is his disability?” Adem explains that his disability has a very long name which can be shortened to spastic diplegia, but that the best way to describe it is, “If your brain is phoning your legs to ask them to walk, it’s like someone cut the [line] between the two. I have to think about walking which takes time and effort.” Stability is also an issue, “Sometimes I am just standing and [feel] that I am going to fall,” says Adem, and so any golf course can be challenging with slopes, bunkers, and gently undulating ground to navigate.
Adem has to balance his desire to become the world number one, with his studies. The school he attends gives him time to play and work on his game, but not at the expense of poor grades. “School takes priority in the winter,” says Adem who works with two physical trainers to help him have the best possibility to be strong and stable. Dimi works on body weight exercises to help Adem strengthen his legs and core, while Mouhsein helps him with his stability through lots of stretching and other routines.
His team also includes the 2008 former world number nine tennis player Dominique Monami who helps Adem on his mental game.
Players who compete with Adem quickly realise that he loves the competition, “there are no excuses in golf,” he says “you are in charge of your own ball.” Always one to put out a challenge to his fellow players, Adem who is a regular on the EDGA tour advises others “to live your life and believe in yourself,” and is quick to show gratitude when saying, “When I see people with their legs and hands cut [I feel fortunate], I can walk, I can run, even though a little strangely. I am living my best life.”
Adem Wahbi is looking forward and by sharing his engaging personality, a sense of fun and gratitude he is fast becoming a leading light in golf for the disabled.
EDGA’s Tony Bennett caught up with Adem Wahbi at the Penina Open in (04.2015). In this revealing interview Adem shared his goals, what golf means to him, how he expects to get over the line as a winner and how he trains and competes with players of a similar golfing ability. As a footnote just eight hours after this interview took place Adem was holding the winners trophy after a birdie on the last secured the title.
Golfing World go’s behind the scenes at the EDGA Algarve Open, where golfers with a wide range of disabilities were given the opportunity to compete on a level and very competitive playing field, at a spectacular venue.
Adem Wahbi, le funambule – published on (04.04.2017).This young 18-year-old golfer, has only one idea in mind “to become world number one.”Portrait of a young Belgian, ambitious and talented.
Adem Wahbi of Belgium played his best golf under pressure to birdie a dramatic final hole and win the European Disabled Golf Association’s (EDGA) 1st Portugal Open on Monday (20.04.2015).
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