“Not only did I win the race, I broke the school record”

Athlete and entrepreneur, Souleyman Bah, speaks to OT  about embracing vision loss, inspiring others and running 100m in 11.5 seconds

Souleyman

When Souleyman Bah moved to the UK from Guinea as a child, he faced the challenge of finding his feet in an unfamiliar country.

Although his surroundings had changed, sport was a universal language for the athlete and entrepreneur.

“I had to learn English. One of the best ways for me to communicate with the other children was through sport. I would play football and basketball, learning words here and there,” Mr Bah shared with OT.

It was during a school sports day that he discovered he had a talent for sprinting. But after he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, his teachers were hesitant about the teenager taking part in running events because of his visual impairment.

“I persisted and not only did I win the race, I broke the school record,” Mr Bah said.

Mr Bah, now 21, went on to win the gold medal at the junior Paralympics in Brazil in 2015.

In 2019, he became the first visually impaired contestant to appear on The Apprentice.

Mr Bah shared with OT that his attitude to living with sight loss has changed over time.

“I was told that I wasn’t going to be able to drive and do so many things in society like everyone else. It seemed like a barrier and a block. Finding the Paralympics – being able to train and win – changed my attitude to believing that RP is something that positive that I can utilise to inspire other people,” Mr Bah shared.

“Vision loss is something that is very difficult to live with, but it is also something to embrace and realise that it is what makes you unique and special,” he added.

Watch the full interview with Mr Bah below.

“It is what makes you unique and special”: Souleyman Bah on living with RP