“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.”
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."