Hassan Sedky, star of the World Cup-defining viral image that showed other fans lift him up above a crowd in his wheelchair, tells RT that the moment was spontaneous, and talks of his own career as a wheelchair basketball player.
Egypt fan Sedky, 25, says he was watching Russia score against Saudi Arabia in the Moscow fan zone during the opening match, and as cheers erupted around him, he literally found himself riding the air.
“These fans around me I’ve never met before, I’ve never seen before,” Sedky told RT. “We were just celebrating, and dancing, and all of a sudden I find myself up there. It’s crazy. It was unbelievable – pure adrenaline.”
While the image, which has been shared nearly 40,000 times on Facebook alone, has been a feelgood outlet for inclusivity, outside Russia 2018, Sedky is no passive sportswatcher being carried along by others.
A Master’s student in Quantitative Finance and Economics at the University of Texas at Arlington, he is also a leading player for its wheelchair basketball team, which last year became the national champions in a game where Sedky played 33 minutes.
Sedky says that basketball was his passion before a life-altering injury in 2011, and its wheelchair version has helped him find his identity in the difficult initial years that followed.
Despite his own team’s disappointing performance – Egypt have already been knocked out of the tournament after two games – he has enjoyed both the tournament and the positive attention he has received everywhere he’s gone.
“You can really feel the love around you,” says Sedky.