Dareen Barbar, a Lebanese athlete who lost her leg at the age of 15, has broken the Guinness World Record for the longest Samson’s chair sit, also known as a static wall sit, by a female contender. The sit involves putting your back against a wall and holding the position until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Barbar won the title after completing the sit for two minutes and 8.24 seconds, and the record also makes her the first female amputee to hold a Guinness World Record in the Middle East. She entered in the LA1 category (unilateral above knee amputation), where there is absence of the challenger’s leg from above or through the knee joint. Unilateral refers to a single leg, meaning the pressure when Barbar did the feat was on her right leg.
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Before losing her leg, Barbar was an aspiring basketball player who used to play for her school. Then, she was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer that led to an amputation of her left leg because of the unbearable pain.
It was a devastating experience and she thought she would never walk again. With the help of her doctors and an advanced prosthesis, Barbar underwent rehabilitation. Gritty and resilient, she recovered quickly and in January 2015, she participated in a four-kilometer marathon in Dubai, saying that it was a big achievement for her because she never walked that distance all at once in her life as an amputee.
“Wall sit wasn’t part of my daily exercise routine; I had to plan and train for a month before the attempt. This exercise is all about muscle endurance and strength in the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. I did the exercise and progressed every other day keeping a healthy diet which includes drinking a lot of water and taking magnesium to ensure optimum performance. I will keep training until next year to break my record,” Barbar told Vogue Arabia.
Her record has also marked the launch of the Guinness World Records Impairment Records Initiative, which sees the introduction of an initial 23 classification categories for physical, intellectual, and visual impairments. The classifications, created with the support of external experts, will be applicable across all sports, strength and ‘journey’ records.
With this initiative, hundreds of new record titles could be created by people with impairments around the world, allowing amateur athletes, fitness fanatics and keen-sports people to make history.
“I grew up reading Guinness world records as a kid, but the idea of being in the book was far from my mind. I feel honored to be one of the four people of determination around the world to participate in launching this exclusive campaign to show that disability is an extraordinary ability that makes the impossible possible,” she told Vogue Arabia.