Josephine Orji - Rio 2016

Josephine Orji


Nigeria’s Josephine Orji burst onto the international Para powerlifting scene at the 2014 World Championships when she became the world’s strongest female Paralympian.

With her then world record of 151kg, she made the rest of the women’s over 86kg field sit up and pay attention.

Once again in 2015 Orji strengthened her position at the top with another world best of 153kg at the Asian Open Championships.

Then at Rio 2016 Orji added an incredible 7kg onto her previous best, leading to a 100 per cent record of gold medals and world records in the three major international competitions she has entered.

Orji will be hoping to continue her dominance at her second World Championships in Mexico City in 2017.


Impairment information

Origin of Impairment

Further personal information

Husband Elukposi Kelechi, two children
Owerri, NGR
Higher education
Librarian Studies - Federal Polytechnic Nekede: Nigeria

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began powerlifting in 2001 in Imo State, Nigeria.
Why this sport?
In 2001 she left her job at a cyber cafe in Nigeria to pursue a career in Para powerlifting. "I lifted 70kg on the first day. It was very simple and normal to me. The coach said he had never seen anyone even lift 50kg on their first attempt and coach Lucky Ibe told me that I would be a champion and that I'd get on a plane and travel the world to international competitions. I couldn't stop thinking about that and couldn't sleep that night, so I quit my job and started training. I wanted to be a champion and a celebrity."
Club / Team
Imo State Sports Council : Owerri, NGR
Name of coach
Feyisetan Are [national]

International debut

Competing for

General interest

Precious (Facebook profile, 03 Jun 2019)
Singing, reading, browsing the internet. (Athlete, 10 Jul 2019)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the +86kg category at the 2014 World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Athlete, 10 Jul 2019;, 22 Jun 2017)
Most influential person in career
Coach Feyisetan Are. (Athlete, 10 Jul 2019)
Hero / Idol
Nigerian Para powerlifter Lucy Ejike. (Athlete, 10 Jul 2019)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." (Facebook profile, 03 Jun 2019)
Her impairment is a result of the effects of polio. (Athlete, 10 Jul 2019)
Other information
She finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan and believes her position outside of the podium places was caused by a Nigerian team official mistakenly telling the event officials that her first lift would be 125kg. That meant she was placed among the lower-ranked Group B competitors and she was unable to react to the weights the Group A competitors were lifting later in the competition. "My name was showing on the scoreboard as a world record holder, yet I was stuck in Group B and that was so disappointing. I didn't want to compete. When a champion is defeated, it is shameful and, for the first time in my life, I came back from a tournament empty handed. It was a disgrace to me. But I am doing this for my name and so that my children will know that their mother will keep giving her all." (, 02 Sep 2020)

She claimed that she felt pressurised into making a quick return to Para powerlifting after missing the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City, Mexico to give birth to her second child. "I was under pressure from the federation and coaches to come back as soon as possible, despite my medical report. It was like no one was listening. I lost some strength and did not enjoy my maternity leave because I had to get back three months after. I was bleeding at times during training but somehow it wasn't enough. I am still struggling [said in September 2020]. I get sick sometimes and I never got sick before." (, 02 Sep 2020)


Unit Date Rank
2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Over 86.00 kg MD Final 2014-04-11 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's +86 kg Final Round 2016-09-14 1