All eyes will be on the Kazakh capital city of Nur-Sultan as the strongest Paralympians fight for the World Para Powerlifting Championship title between 13-20 July.
A total of 441 athletes from 78 nations aim to win one of the 20 gold medals up for grabs.
Chinese reigning world champion Lingling Guo will be one of the big names competing in the women’s up to 45kg on Saturday.
The men’s up to 49kg could see either reigning world champion Le Van Cong of Vietnam or Jordan’s Worlds runner-up Omar Qarada grabbing the top prize.
China are also hopeful of landing gold in the women’s up to 41kg through defending world champion Cui Zhe.
SHERIF OSMAN, LIKE WINE
Owner of the Rio 2016 Paralympic and Mexico City 2017 gold medals, plus the world record (211kg), the Egyptian has all the forces in his favour in the men’s up to 59kg.
“I remember, I read on the IPC website a while back, someone wrote ‘Sherif is like a fine wine, he gets better with age’,” he said.
“It is true! Getting stronger as you get older is of course a challenge. But I like the wine comparison. It is my belief that I will keep getting better.”
KAZAKH MEDAL HOPEFUL
Home fans will be cheering on Raushan Koishibayeva as she participates in the women’s up to 67kg on 16 July after a successful 2018 which saw her ending second at both the Asia-Oceania Open and the Asian Para Games.
The Paralympic silver medallist seeks to outdo her performance from the 2017 World Championships, where she ended fifth.
“I am proud that our country will host such a big event and I think that all of this will have a positive effect and help Kazakh Para sport to move forward,” she said.
“I hope for a successful performance because these are home walls and there is double the amount of responsibility. But we will see. The barbell will single out the winner.”
One day earlier, Mexican multiple Paralympic champion Amalia Perez will be hoping to add a fourth world title to her trophy cabinet in the women’s up to 55kg.
MORE TOP NAMES COMPETING
Nigerian world and Paralympic champion Paul Kehinde continues to get stronger and will be the man-to-beat in the men’s up to 65kg.
He said: “I know I can break the world record again, because I’m the one who set it, and I believe by the grace of God, I’m going to add kilograms. I want to set a record that nobody will be able to break.”
The world’s strongest Paralympian Siamand Rahman will be in action on the penultimate day of competition, with many expecting him to go for the world record of 310kg he set back at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
The first mixed team events will be contested on the final day. Each team will be represented by three powerlifters, with at least one of them being a female.
Mexico’s Jose Castillo Castillo, Brazil’s Evanio Da Silva and Iraq’s Rasool Mohsin are some of the big names expected to take part in it.
Lucas dos Santos and Marcos Cruzato claimed two golds for Brazil in an action-packed day of competition at the Nur-Sultan 2019 World Para Powerlifting Junior Championships on Friday.
Dos Santos even lifted an Americas junior record of 126kg to win the men’s up to 49kg at the Astana Congress Centre.
“I am very happy to keep the gold with me. This has been my best lift ever, though I wanted to go for more,” the 17-year-old said before adding he will target 135kg at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games.
Just a few minutes later, Cruzato made it two golds for Brazil with a convincing 96kg lift in the men’s up to 54kg. It was an unexpected win for him, who had finished in fourth place at the 2017 Junior Worlds in Mexico City.
According to him, “right training and good coaches in Brazil” were the reasons behind his success.
Brazil also celebrated silver through Vinicius de Freitas in the men’s up to 80kg. The 19-year-old finished behind Greece’s Athanasios Vagenas (130kg) and ahead of Mexican Juan Ramirez (115kg).
IRAQI POWERLIFTERS DELIVER
Power-packed performances by Abdullah Al-Kaabi and Hussein Al-Jber earned Iraq two gold medals.
Al-Kaabi cleared the bar at 130kg to win the men’s up to 88kg, while Al-Jber lifted 155kg to top the men’s over 107kg podium.
Iraq also took bronze in the men´s up to 72kg through Hayder Al-Behadili, who pushed 112kg. Italy’s world record holder Donato Telesca won with a 171kg lift, while Uzbekistan’s Sultonboy Matyakubov (125kg) secured silver.
Ukraine followed Iraq in the medals table with two golds.
Denys Ostapuk pulled off an emotional victory in the men’s up to 59kg after lifting 118kg. “I can’t explain my feelings in words. I am very emotional. This victory is one step ahead towards my goal,” he said.
Kseniia Tokar cleared the bar at 60kg to win the women’s up to 41kg and add a second gold to Ukraine’s haul.
Tursynay Kabyl gave Kazakhstan the first gold medal on home soil at Nur-Sultan 2019 by winning the women’s up to 41kg with a 57kg lift.
Malaysia’s junior world record holder Bonnie Bunyau Gustin was another impressive winner clearing the bar at a whopping 190kg for the men’s up to 65kg gold.
Defending champions Besra Duman and Fatma Korany also emerged winners in the women's up to 55kg and up to 61kg, respectively.
Competition at the Senior World Championships will get underway on Saturday, with 441 athletes from 78 nations participating.
You can watch the Nur-Sultan 2019 World Para Powerlifting Junior Championships live on its official website https://www.paralympic.org/nur-sultan-2019 and Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/parapowerlifting