Va. teen cyclist remembered at vigil
Mourning replaced celebration for Fairfax High School senior and wrestler Abdel Ouahid Chadli, 18, who was killed Friday in Fairfax County when an out-of-control sport-utility vehicle veered across a median strip and six traffic lanes and onto a bicycle path, where the teen was riding, before crashing into a tree. The driver, Gary Anthony Thorne of Manassas, died at the scene, one day shy of turning 32.
Kevin Richards, 17, of Fairfax, who was Abdel's neighbor and wrestling partner, said members of the team gathered at the crash site Sunday to
pay their respects to the young man whose sense of humor and talent for impersonations earned him the nickname "Borat." They made a memorial, leaving a poem, a pair of wrestling shoes, and singlets, the uniform grapplers wear, and talked about getting tattoos in their friend's honor.
Richards said he and Abdel ran as many as seven miles a day when they were getting in shape for wrestling and get in under the most competitive weight limit, a practice known as "cutting weight."
"This kid worked so hard," Richards said.
Richards said Abdel had been bicycling with his girlfriend, Emma Duke, a favorite past time, when the accident occurred. And he was looking forward to starting college to become a veterinarian.
"I really miss the kid," Richards said
Craig Franklin, coach of Fairfax High School's "Rebel Pride" wrestling
team, said Abdel Chadli stood out for his work ethic, his sense of humor and his willingness to learn. Abdel became involved in wrestling later than most, joining only in his sophomore. But he pushed himself so hard that he advanced quickly, despite competing in one of the toughest weight brackets, at 119 pounds, became a wizard at the 2- point takedown, Franklin said.
"On the mat and definitely in the practice room, he was one of the hardest working kids on the team," Franklin said. "By the time he was a senior, you couldn't tell he started his sophomore year."
As hard as he worked, Abdel also kept things loose with his sense of humor.
"He was hilarious. There were times in practice he would have the whole team just laughing, just rolling," Campbell said. "I'm still in shock. He's lost but he's obviously not going to be forgotten."
-- Fredrick Kunkel
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