An inspirational Bradford schoolboy, who had to learn how to walk again after battling cancer, has been chosen as one of the UK’s youngest Olympic torchbearers.
The honour recognises the struggle Sohail Husenbhai has faced since being diagnosed with leukaemia aged four-and-a-half. Sohail, who celebrates his 13th birthday on Saturday, had to undergo chemotherapy at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, and his right leg was badly affected.
His father Shabbir Husenbhai, who is a pharmacist and owns Shakespeares Chemist in Oak Lane, Manningham, Bradford, said: “It left a hole in the femur and he was put in a body cast from the chest down. He could not walk and was in a still position for nine months.”
Despite the illness, Mr Husenbhai, said his son took everything in his stride. “He was brave and always had a smile on his face,” he added. “He never once complained.”
Sohail, who is a pupil at Dixons Academy, West Bowling, remained in treatment for more than four years and has now been in remission for three years, however, he still faces difficulty walking, as he has been left with a right leg that is three to four centimetres shorter than the other.
The way Sohail has dealt with these difficulties so impressed his 18-year-old sister Sama, who is in her final year of A-levels at Dixons Academy she nominated him to be a torchbearer. She herself will work as a transport volunteer during the Olympics in Surrey for the rowing and canoeing events.
“It was a surprise when we got an email from the Olympic committee. He was really ecstatic and I think it has been something for him to look forward to. In February the ongoing problem with his leg meant he was walking with two crutches. When it is time for his event on June 25 he will be trying not to use the crutches at all. It has motivated him to keep pushing. We are encouraging him to walk a bit more every day.”
All Sohail’s family, including mum Jameela, will be proudly cheering him on during his 300m stretch of the Olympic torch relay on Monday, June 25, in Morley, Leeds.