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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

A Season Snatched

Junior lifter’s journey back to the gym following paralysis
Photo courtesy of Boaz Kim
Lifters (left to right) junior Nico Santiago, sophomore Aurion Ekbatani, junior Boaz Kim, and junior Jackson Salinas visited Zaman in the hospital during the early stages of his recovery.

   Junior lifter Safwan Zaman went out to grab lunch after a typical morning lift. One week later, he was lying still in a hospital bed. Zaman was diagnosed with a stomach bug that later turned into Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). According to the Centers for Disease Control, GBS is a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the body’s nerves causing muscle weakness, and in Zaman’s case, paralysis–just a few weeks before the weightlifting postseason. 

   After waking up in the hospital, weightlifting was the last thing on Zaman’s mind, but as his recovery progressed, he realized that a year’s worth of working out was wasted. From a few days before to after the incident, Zaman had lost around 23 pounds.

   “I trained hard from the end of last season to get to where I was before the whole thing happened,” Zaman said. “And it was just so frustrating to realize that I wouldn’t get a chance in districts, but at the end of the day, I knew I had to accept it. And now, I just have to hope that next year I’ll be fine enough to compete again.”

   Zaman was one of the key contributors to the team’s 6-2 regular season record, but his impact extended outside of the gym. Varsity Head Coach Isiah Cabal said Zaman’s energy was felt by lifters and coaches, often elevating the mood of the team. 

   “Safwan is kind of like our unofficial mascot,” Cabal said. “He’s super enthusiastic, he has lots of energy, he’s a great training partner, basically everyone loves to lift with him. Every time he’s in the room, he just brings the mood up.” 

   During the days of Zaman’s recovery in the hospital, multiple lifters from the team came to visit. Zaman, who was in a wheelchair at the time, was happy to see his friends for the first time in days.

   “It was nice seeing them, because in the hospital I was alone for most of the time,” Zaman said. “ It was kind of suffocating because I wasn’t allowed to leave my room or even see anyone unless they visited, so it was really great for them to come.”

   Among those to visit was junior lifter Jackson Salinas, who had worked out with Zaman in both the offseason and on the school team. Salinas said that Zaman’s story served as an inspiration for the team heading into districts.

   “We all started lifting for him every week, and we would call him before and after practices,” Salinas said. “I feel like it was a motivation for everybody, since he’s not there, we’ll just try our best and do it all for him. The end of our season was kind of dedicated to him.”

   The road to recovery was a long and hard process for Zaman. After being paralyzed for three days, he spent four weeks in a wheelchair before being able to walk with a cane. Now two months removed from the situation, Zaman is walking without any support and expected to make a full recovery in six to twelve months. He plans on getting back in the gym as soon as possible to get in shape before next season.

   “I never expected this to happen obviously,” Zaman said. “But I guess it has made me realize to never take anything for granted. This could have been worse, and I am just lucky to be in a position to make a full recovery and compete again.”

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About the Contributor
David Steinberg
David Steinberg, Managing Editor
David Steinberg is a junior entering his third year on staff as a managing editor. While he’s not writing, he is an all-star athlete on the level of LeBron James: he enjoys golfing, ice hockey and running pickup basketball with his friends. After his games, he likes to wind down with a good medium steak and the 15th rewatch of his favorite TV show “Suits" for his favorite actress, her majesty, Meghan Markle. Contact David at [email protected]

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