Medals design unveiled for Asian Open in Almaty‏

The organisers of the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships, taking place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 26-30 July, have revealed the medals design for the event which will act as a qualifier for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Almaty 2015, which is set to host over 220 athletes from 30 countries, will be one of the largest gatherings of powerlifters this year and is part of a trio of regional Championships which include the Americas and Europe.

Jorge Moreno, IPC Powerlifting Sport Manager, explained why the competition is so important:

"The Asian Open has been in the sport's calendar since 2005 and has helped us to steadily build the profile and quality of competition in the region.

"Following on from the success of April's Americas Open in Mexico City, where numerous world and regional records were broken, it is clear that athletes are serious about bringing their absolute best performances to these competitions.

"Many of the world's best powerlifters are Asian and will be performing in Almaty, so an outstanding Championships is anticipated, particularly as many athletes entered are using this event with their prime focus being on securing their slot for Rio 2016."

The medals design for Almaty 2015 features a traditional round shape with the event logo embossed onto the front. Surrounding the emblem is a line of eagles, adapted from the Kazakhstan flag that symbolises independence, freedom and the flight to the future.

Hoping to leave the Baluan Sholak Sports Palace with a distinctive gold medal is one of the world's strongest Paralympians, Iran's Siamand Rahman.

Rahman is the reigning world champion in the men's over 107kg and holds the world record of 292kg, but has suggested that his target is to become the first Paralympian to bench press 300kg.

The host team is expected to feature Kabira Askarova, who won Asian silver at the 2013 edition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in the women's up to 50kg.

The Chinese are entering a strong field of multiple world and Paralympic champions, including Lei Liu in the men's up to 65kg, Xiao Fei Gu in the men's up to 80kg and Yujiao Tan in the women's up to 67kg.

Both Gu and Tan are the current world record holders, with Tan coming off an amazing 2014 where she broke the world record at the World Championships in Dubai and produced an equally inspiring performance at the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games less than six months later.

Chinese Taipei's Tzu-Hu Lin also set a new mark in Dubai and will be back in action in Almaty in the women's up to 79kg.

Making the most of the opportunities available in 2015 is Greek men's up to 107kg world champion and record holder Pavlos Mamalos who will lead out the silver and bronze medallists from the World Championships in the men's up to 107kg.

Iran's Ali Sadeghzadehsalmani and Azerbaijani Elshan Heseynov both trailed Mamalos in Dubai last year but will be fighting to avoid a repeat placing in just one month's time.

Following Almaty 2015, powerlifters will head to the IPC Powerlifting European Open Championships in Eger, Hungary, from 24-28 November.

The Almaty 2015 Asian Open Powerlifting Championships will take place from 26-30 July. Live results will be available at www.Almaty2015.com and updates and news published at www.Facebook.com/IPCPowerlifting and www.Twitter.com/IPCPowerlifting.

An image of the medals design is available at www.Flickr.com/Paralympic.