May 23, 2017 / 1:51 PM / 3 months ago

Egyptian becomes first amputee to swim across Red Sea Gulf

Egyptian swimmer Omar Hegazy, who is the first one-legged man to swim across the Gulf of Aqaba from Egypt to Jordan, goes down some stairs after training in Cairo, Egypt May 20, 2017.Mohamed Abd El Ghany

(Reuters) - An Egyptian adventurer has become the first amputee to swim from Egypt to Jordan, crossing a 20-kilometre (12.4 miles) stretch of the Red Sea's Gulf of Aqaba last month in under nine hours.

Omar Hegazy, a 26-year-old banker, lost his left leg two years ago in a motorcycle accident he said left him with an identity crisis.

But Hegazy regained his strength through training and was able to take up sports he had enjoyed before his accident, including rock-climbing and snorkelling.

"I used to lead a very active lifestyle... I didn’t know what I was anymore or how I was going to live," he said.

"I like exploring, adventuring and doing things for the first time."

Hegazy raised funds for the swim through local sponsors and audiences tracked his progress across the coral-rich gulf through a Twitter hashtag he created to raise awareness about people enduring mental and physical disabilities.

"I see life in near-death experiences and I want to (bring people along for the ride)," he said.

Reporting by Sayed Sheasha; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Tom Finn and Ed Osmond

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