France's Souhad Ghazouani could not have started her road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on a higher note this year, having recorded a world-record lift of 150kg to win gold in the women's -73kg category at the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Open European Championships. Ghazouani's incredible lift at May's Championships in Aleksin, Russia, was four kilograms better than the performance that won her London 2012 gold in the -67.50kg category less than a year prior. Just how much was it? Think about it this way -- her lift was equivalent to 120 bottles of wine. "It will prove that I can still compete at the highest level and it will act as a good landmark in preparation for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games," Ghazouani said of her performance in Aleksin. The 31-year-old is now a reigning European, world and Paralympic champion, and hopes to help France further develop the sport of powerlifting in the lead-up to Rio. Her transition to competing in the -73kg category came following an extensive review of all IPC Powerlifting bodyweight category trends across major competitions. The event in Aleksin was the first major regional competition to include IPC Powerlifting's new weight categories, which took effect on 1 January, changing the structure of weight classes and meaning several world and regional records were set in 2013. Organised by the Russian Sport Federation for Physically Disabled Athletes, the IPC Powerlifting European Championships drew 137 athletes from 27 countries and were viewed live by audiences worldwide on the IPC's YouTube channel. Ghazouani, easily one of the most successful athletes at those Championships, will take another step on the road to Rio 2016 next year when she competes at April's 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships in Dubai, UAE. While all her coaches and teammates around her are already discussing the buzz she can stir in media and fans in Rio, Ghazouani insists she does not like to get too caught up in the Paralympic spirit when it comes to the Paralympic Games. "For me, it's a competition like any other," she once said. "Of course we see new people but we're not there to socialise, we're there to win. I go to the Paralympic Games to win gold. "The music, the flame, whatever, I'm not touched by them. The thing that gets me is when the national anthem plays and your flag is there in the middle, in first place, and everybody stands and sings. "It's the only thing I like."
Anti-doping programme is rolled out at two international IPC Powerlifting competitions.
“I believe that IPC Powerlifting’s new educational programme is a positive step in the right direction to help educating countries about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements."
The Raise the Bar – Say No! to Doping campaign – aiming to educate athletes and teams about anti-doping – has achieved a successful debut at the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships and the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Brazilian Invitational Championships this week.
Nearly 300 athletes and 80 coaches and team officials from 38 countries attended one-one educational seminars at the Asian Open Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Brazilian Invitational in Fortaleza, Brazil, and took time to show their support for anti-doping by having their picture taken in front of branded banners.
Great Britain’s Ali Jawad this week added his support to the campaign. In a blog for Paralympic.org, the 24 year-old lifter said:
“I believe that IPC Powerlifting’s new educational programme is a positive step in the right direction to help educating countries about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements.
"A positive test ruins the reputation of the sport, but I’m glad the cheats are being caught.
"It means the system is working. It gives clean athletes like me a chance at winning major medals.”
The aim of the project, which is funded by the Agitos Foundation, is to give people the knowledge and training to be able to make informed choices during training and competition.
It is targeted not just at athletes but also the people that surround them during competitions, who can be incredibly influential.
Those who took part in the sessions had the chance to test what they had learnt with a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) quiz, and will soon be able to make their support even more visible by wearing t-shirts, caps and carrying water bottles displaying the Raise the Bar branding.
To ensure the message resonates with those who came to the sessions, they were run by respected figures with years of anti-doping experience.
Banners were also placed at either side of the platform during competition in Kuala Lumpur in a further display of how seriously the sport is taking tackling doping in powerlifting.
The next educational sessions will be held at the 2014 IPC Powerlifting Hungarian Open Championships from 10-11 January. In total five competitions are chalked to be part of the campaign, and people can join the conversation and show their support on social media by using the #no2doping.
In total IPC Powerlifting aims to target 500 athletes, which due to the popularity of the first sessions now looks like it will be surpassed, as well as their coaches and teams with the climax of the programme coming at the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships which take place from 5-11 April in Dubai, UAE.
The project is funded by the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Agitos Foundation.
The last day of the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships saw another world record fall, bringing the total for the competition to 10.
Pourmirzaei led all three rounds, not faltering in any of his lifts to win gold ahead of London 2012 bronze medallist Korean Keun Bae Chun with 233kg and Walid Raeilboon of UAE.
The 2013 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships have concluded with a total of 10 world records, including a final flourish for Iran’s Mansour Pourmirzaei on the last day of competition at the Titiwangsa Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 33-year-old stunned the crowd with a lift of 276kg, destroying the previous men’s over 107kg seniors record of Iraqi Faris Al-Ajeeli by an incredible 36kg. Pourmirzaei led all three rounds, not faltering in any of his lifts to win gold ahead of London 2012 bronze medallist Korean Keun Bae Chun with 233kg and Walid Raeilboon of UAE.
Nigeria top the final medals table with five senior, two silver and three bronze medals as well as two junior golds. China finish just behind with 11 medals including four senior golds and Egypt third with six medals, half of which are golden.
Nigerian Paralympic champion Grace Anozie sealed the medals victory for her country by attempting to break the women’s over 86kg world record with her third lift, but settled for gold with a best just 2kg shy of the 142kg target.
Mexico’s Perla Barcenas ended far from Anozie with her silver medal lift of 115kg and just ahead of South Korean Hyun Jung Lee with 111kg, showing 36-year-old veteran Anozie’s domination heading into the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships in April.
Egyptian Mohamed Abdel Hakam Hammam and teammate Mohamed Elsayed topped the podium in the men’s up to 107kg with a close fight between the two for the gold. Hammam, 34, edged Elsayed by just 1kg with a golden second lift of 222kg whilst Elsayed lifted 221kg in the same round. Both men failed their third attempts whilst China’s Pingguang Tian worked his way up to a best of 202kg for bronze.
The last of the women’s events saw China’s 31-year-old Xuemei Deng push 111kg to claim gold in the up to 86kg category. The closest competitor was Malaysian Norfariza Mortada for silver with 70kg, with the bronze medal place on the podium vacant following Catalina Diaz Vilchis’s failure to clear the bar on any of her attempts.
Around 200 athletes from 30 countries competed at the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships, ahead of the World Championships which take place in Dubai, UAE, from 5-11 April 2014.
As well as competing for a Minimum Qualifying Standard for the World Championships, athletes and teams have also been spending time during the week attending educational seminars on anti-doping.
Raise the Bar – Say NO! to Doping was rolled out in Kuala Lumpur for the first time and aims to target around 500 lifters as well as coaches and teams, and provides one-one education, training and practical testing of the knowledge they have gained.
The project, funded by the Agitos Foundation, will run at a variety of international and national competitions over the coming months including the 2014 World Championships.
Powerlifter Gunduz Ismayilov was banned for life in 2004 after a second anti-doping violation in four years.
“This is a very unique case with a unique set of circumstances."
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has overturned Azerbaijani powerlifter Gunduz Ismayilov’s lifetime ban, imposed on him in 2004, after his former partner confessed in a court of law to spiking his drink with a substance which led to his second anti-doping violation in four years.
After serving a two-year ban for a failed drug test at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, Ismayilov competed at the Athens 2004 Paralympics. At the Games, he returned an adverse analytical finding for Stanozolol metabolites (an anabolic steroid) and, under the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC) rules at the time, was banned for life by the IPC for his second anti-doping rule violation.
The decision by the IPC to overturn the ban now however comes after his former partner - an athlete who also competed in Athens - admitted in a Baku court of law that she had sabotaged his drink in the Athens Paralympic Village with a prohibited substance which led to the anti-doping violation. The two had separated in 2003, and although they had remained on good terms, she had spiked the drink as a form of punishment.
His former partner’s admission only came about following an investigation spearheaded by the athlete and his lawyer to prove his innocence, during which Ismayilov has served nine years of his lifetime ban.
Dr. Toni Pascual, Chairperson of the IPC Anti-Doping Committee, said: “This is a very unique case with a unique set of circumstances. Under the IPC Anti-Doping Code, an athlete with a lifetime ban under the previous Code can request for their case to be reviewed under the rules of the present Code. In this case, providing that they had new and very relevant evidence had been determinant.
“Having received sufficient proof from the athlete, his National Paralympic Committee and the Azerbaijani court that his second violation was a result of sabotage, and not the athlete’s own fault or negligence, the IPC has agreed to overturn his lifetime ban with immediate effect.
“The IPC is committed to doping free sport and in October launched ‘Raise the Bar’, an extensive education campaign targeting Powerlifting athletes, coaches and their support networks which surround them during training and competition.”
Under the IPC’s terms for removing the lifetime ban, Ismayilov must be available for reinstatement testing and will not be eligible to compete again until he has been subject to three months of out-of-competition tests. He will also be added to the IPC’s registered testing pool which means he will have to provide current and accurate whereabouts information.
As a signatory of the WADC, the IPC remains committed to a doping free sporting environment at all levels. The IPC, together with the International Federations and the National Paralympic Committees, established the IPC Anti-Doping Code to prevent doping in sport for Paralympic athletes, in the spirit of fair play. The IPC Anti-Doping Code is in conformity with the general principles of the WADC.
91 athletes from a total of four nations compete in Fortaleza, aiming to qualify for the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships.
“I want to lift more than 115kg, which is the current Brazilian record in my category [up to 86kg] and my best achievement. I have been training well and I will do it,”
91 powerlifters from four countries, including athletes from Brazil firmly on their road to Rio 2016, have gathered for the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Brazilian Powerlifting Invitational Championships in Fortaleza, Ceará, hoping to qualify for the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships.
Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia have all sent teams to the University of Fortaleza for the last qualification opportunity for South American athletes, which started yesterday (6 November) and runs until 9 November.
The Brazilian team in Fortaleza will feature three of the five Brazilian representatives from the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Marcia Menezes, Rodrigo Rosa and Josilene Alves Ferreira. Menezes and Rosa finished in sixth place in their respective categories at the 2012 Games.
At the 2010 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ferreira achieved a fourth place finish. In Dubai, Ferreira is seeking to improve on that position, but needs to perform well at the invitational in Fortaleza to secure her position on the Brazilian team that will travel to the United Arab Emirates.
“I want to lift more than 115kg, which is the current Brazilian record in my category [up to 86kg] and my best achievement. I have been training well and I will do it,” she commented confidently.
43 year-old Ferreira contracted polio at eight months old and now uses a wheelchair. She began powerlifting in 2002 as a form of rehab, but she took a shine to the sport and went on to become an elite athlete who has competed in two Paralympic games at Beijing 2008 (finishing in fifth place) and London 2012.
The four athletes who won gold at the World Dwarf Games in August, in the USA, will also don Brazil’s colours and compete for a medal and a spot in Dubai. In August 2013, Luciano Dantas, Lucas Tavares, Erinaldo Ferreira and Maria Rizonaide each brought back a gold medal from the World Dwarf Games.
The Brazilian powerlifters will be evaluated by the technical commission during the competition and will have to meet certain goals for each category. Those who do will be invited for a training week and, if they meet the criteria, they will participate in the 2014 IPC Powerlifting Hungarian Open in January, followed by the World Championship in April in Dubai, UAE.
In addition to powerlifting, the capital of Ceará will also host another para-sport competition this weekend (9-10 November).
Athletes will compete in the third and final national event of the Caixa Loterias Athletics and Swimming Circuit. More than 500 athletes, including Paralympic champions, will compete for medals on the track and field of Unifor, and in the swimming pool of Náutico Atlético Cearense. The Circuit closes the adult competition calendar of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee for 2013.
The 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships take place from 5-11 April in Dubai, UAE, where 300 athletes from 50 countries are expected to compete for coveted world titles ahead of Rio 2016.