Medals will be last item on Mamalos' mind in Aleksin

Greece’s Pavlos Mamalos has built quite a following heading into next week’s IPC Powerlifting Open European Championships in Aleksin, Russia. 17 May 2013
Pavlos Mamalos

Greece's Pavlos Mamalos celebrates after a big lift at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

ⒸGetty Images
By Luke Jackson | For the IPC

“Throughout my whole career so far, I have never been thinking of the medals before a competition. This was my approach before the Beijing Paralympics and I repeated it for the London Paralympic Games.”

In recent years, Paralympic powerlifting has slowly but surely been taking off in Greece.

One of the main reasons is down to Pavlos Mamalos’ successes at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games.

At these two competitions, he claimed a silver and a bronze medal, respectively, and as a result of his fantastic achievements he has become a role model to many aspiring youngsters who want to pursue a career in sports.

He said: “When I won my second Paralympic medal in London, this had a major impact for the sport of powerlifting in Greece.

“I received a lot of calls from all over the country, especially from younger and older children that wanted to become athletes like me.

“This meant a huge amount to me as I knew I had the nations support.”

With an increased fan base behind him, Mamalos is now set to build on his success at next week’s 2013 IPC Powerlifting Open European Championships in Aleksin, Russia, where he will compete in the -107kg category.

Hoping everything falls into place

As the event nears, Mamalos admits that he is not concerned about what competition he may come up against, including Iraq’s Faris Al-Ajeeli, who is the world-record holder in the -107kg category after lifting 232kg at February’s Fazaa competition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Instead, his main focus is ensuring that his body and game plan for the competition are at the best that they can be in his new weight class.

He said: “The opposition that I will be coming up against is something that does not interest me before a competition. I am more focused on myself, ensuring that I will be in good condition and healthy.

“Everything falls into place during the competition and the strategy that we will develop will be according to the circumstances of the occasion.”

Nevertheless, Mamalos, who won a bronze medal in London with an impressive lift of 232kg in the 90kg category, acknowledges that he can never underestimate any of the athletes on the powerlifting circuit.

He continued: “However, one must be very careful during powerlifting competitions.

“During the London Paralympic Games we had a surprise from an Egyptian athlete (Hany Abdelhady), but we did the best we could and at the end we won a medal.

“At the European Championships in Aleksin, Russia, we want to observe some new athletes and study them as we get closer to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”

Beginning the road to Rio

As for his preparations for Aleksin, Mamalos is feeling confident going into the competition despite having a slight injury scare.

“I was worried last week because I felt some soreness in my shoulder but during my last training session everything went fine so I believe I am over that problem,” he said.

“As for now, I am feeling ready to travel to Russia to the European Championships and ready to face the challenges of this competition.”

Despite enjoying a decorated career since he began competing in 2003, Mamalos has never won a gold medal.

However, this is not something that plays on repeat in his mind.

“Throughout my whole career so far, I have never been thinking of the medals before a competition,” he said. “This was my approach before the Beijing Paralympics and I repeated it for the London Paralympic Games.”

“My goal is to remain calm and focused so I can give my best during the competition. At the end of the week in Russia I will evaluate how it went for me.

“Obviously, I enjoy competing more when everything has gone well and I am on the podium celebrating at the end.”

Looking past the European Championships and toward the Rio 2016 Games, Mamalos plans to use the upcoming challenge to see if his training cycle is coming along as planned.

“I have almost three and a half years in front of me; therefore the European Championships in Alexin will be a very good test to evaluate my training,” he said.

“My attitude depends a lot on my health and I was a bit worried last week when I felt the soreness in my shoulder.

“If I had to pass on the European Championship it would have been unbelievably disappointing, but now that I have overcome all health issues my confidence is high again."

The 2013 IPC Powerlifting Open European Championships will run from 22-26 May and will be streamed live on the IPC's YouTube channel.