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Manchester United Supporter Overcomes All Odds To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro After Suffering Injuries During 2017 Manchester Arena Attack

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Manchester United Supporter Overcomes All Odds To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro After Suffering Injuries During 2017 Manchester Arena Attack

Manchester United supporter, Martin Hibbert, was wounded in the terrorist attack in the Manchester Arena in 2017. Five years on, he conquered Mount Kilimanjaro.

Several times over the course of the 21-22 football season, Manchester United haven’t just looked like a team lacking in quality, but a team lacking in fighting spirit. While that deficiency in determination was more than evident on the pitch, it didn’t spread an iota to the supporters.

This is especially true in the case of Martin Hibbert, a supporter that managed the incredible feat of ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, as reported by Manchester Evening News.

What makes this feat all the more impressive is that just five years ago, Hibbert was injured at the Manchester Arena attack with more than 20 pieces of shrapnel impaling him at a speed of 90mph.

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Despite being given the prognosis that he may never walk again due to the damage to his spine, Hibbert endured a 14 hour procedure in the operating theatre.

To truly understand the scope of his injuries, one can use the following analogy: it was the equivalent of being shot 22 times from unmissable range.

Now, more than five years on, he has conquered the tallest mountain in the African continent, becoming only the second paraplegic to achieve such a feat.

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Hibbert’s love for United, his memorabilia, remained close to him during his time in hospital. He speaks fondly of the United shirts he wore during much of his time at Salford Royal Hospital.

His mission to ascend Kilimanjaro arose due to his wish to aid in fundraising efforts. During a pitch with a charity called ‘The October Club’, Hibbert stunned the charity members by vowing to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro wasn’t his initial goal, however. “I wanted to do basecamp on Mount Everest but it came back that it was impossible… The second hardest thing was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro”, he told the MEN.

The training for such a challenge was comparable to some of the work that United’s own players put in.

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Hibbert began practicing by ascending mountains around the United Kingdom in his adapted wheelchair.

Furthermore, he exercised using high-altitude chambers in order to prepare for the aerobic challenge.

The conditions, as one can expect, were daunting. “It was 30 degrees celsius at the bottom and it can reach minus 10 degrees at the top. We went from rainforest to six-foot boulders, to huge rocks, to ash, to shale and to volcanic ash.”

With a steely determination that could’ve been useful in the Old Trafford home dressing room, Hibbert recounts that “I would just sit for 20 minutes and look at it [Kilimanjaro] and think, you’re mine, throw everything you want at me, but you won’t beat me.”

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Aerial view of Mount Kilimanjaro lit by the setting sun. (Alamy)
Aerial view of Mount Kilimanjaro lit by the setting sun. (Alamy)

Even at the summit of Kilimanjaro, at temperatures of -10C with only 10% oxygen available, Hibbert says that he “wanted a picture with my United flag!”

While United have suffered on the pitch over the course of the past season, it’s good to see that the club are still classy as ever off the pitch. The club granted him permission to use OId Trafford as a venue for a live interview and passed him messages from players along with a signed shirt.

Furthermore, Hibbert says that the club “want me to come out before one of the games next season, which is going to be very special. It will be very emotional, I’ve been going there since the age of six.”

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This is a man that lives and breathes Manchester United. He’s been present for some of the most special days in the club’s history. “I was there in 1999, I was there in Russia, Rome, Wembley, I’ve seen them win FA Cups, League Cups, Champions Leagues and Premier Leagues."

Hibbert’s impressive achievement has thus far raised more than £550,000 to date. “I call it my Marcus Rashford moment… When Marcus did that campaign last year, I honestly didn’t know kids were starving in the UK. I was so proud of him for doing that and I was so inspired.”

Manchester United’s supporters are part of what makes this club so special. Hibbert puts it best, “it’s [United] my pride, it’s my passion, it’s my life.”

The day everyone at the club, both on the pitch and in the offices, believes the same is when Manchester United’s revolution will truly begin.

Featured Image Credit: @MartinHibbert on Twitter

Topics: Manchester United, Football

Aditya Selvam
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