2021 recap: New forces emerge on the main stage

With the Paralympic Games and World Championships taking place in the same year, many new countries shine on the podium for the first time 17 Dec 2021
Three athletes hugging each other on the podium while posing for a photo.
Omar Qarada of Jordan (middle) and Parmjeet Kumar of India (right) win their countries first Paralympic and Worlds medals in 2021.
ⒸHiroki Nishioka/WPPO
By World Para Powerlifting

It was a busy 2021 for the World Para Powerlifting community with five World Cup, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and the Tbilisi 2021 World Para Powerlifting Championships in one calendar year.

An exciting road to Tokyo 2020 ended with World Cups in Bogota, Manchester, Bangkok, Tbilisi, and Dubai, while the road to Paris 2024 Paralympic Games started in the Georgian capital from 28 November – 6 December with the junior and senior World Championships.


The Para powerlifting year started in early March with the Bogota 2021 World Cup. It was more than a year after the last World Cup took place in Manchester, Great Britain, at the end of February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Colombian athletes owned the stage at their home World Cup winning six gold medals. Nur-Sultan 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Fabio Torres was the most successful Colombian to take gold in Bogota.

Turkey's Besra Duman broke the European record in the women's up to 55kg category with a 117-kg lift.

March was a hectic month with the Manchester World Cup taking place at the end of the month. Nigerian athletes put on a dominant performance winning 10 golds and three silvers breaking two world records on the way.

Bose Omolayo lifted 142.5kg in the women's up to 79kg category, while her compatriot Folashade Oluwafemiayo did the same in the up to 86kg category lifting 150.5kg.

Another world record was broken in Manchester by the Ukrainian world champion Mariana Shevchuk in the women's up to 55kg category. She lifted 132kg in the second attempt to improve her world record.

The season continued at the first-ever World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand. Iran topped the medals table with five golds and two silver medals with one of them being Roohallah Rostami's world record in the men's up to 80kg category.

Rostami lifted 241kg to surpass the 240kg-mark set by compatriot Majid Farzin at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Malaysia's Bonnie Gustin also attempted to break the world record in the men's up to 72kg category but he was unsuccessful on the occasion.

Tbilisi, Georgia, hosted another inaugural World Cup in May. The Georgian capital witnessed another world record by Ukraine's Mariana Shevchuk. She topped her world record by 1kg (133kg attempt) in the women's up to 55kg category.

Brazil's Mariana D'Andrea also had a record-breaking display in Tbilisi as she broke the Americas record twice in the women's up to 73kg category. She lifted 130kg and 135kg, respectively.

Dubai 2021 World Cup in June was the largest Para powerlifting competition before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics with around 250 athletes from 54 nations.

China dominated the competition winning seven golds, two silvers, and one bronze led by Lingling Guo in the women's up to 41kg category. Guo broke the world record three times on the occasion eventually setting the bar at 107kg.

More world records were broken in the coming days as the athletes were fighting for last spots at the Paralympic Games.

Jordan's Abdelkareem Khattab was the surprise winner in the men's up to 88kg category. He broke the world record twice, first at the 237kg-mark and then in the 'power lift' with 240kg.

Russia's Vera Muratova improved on the Bose Omolayo's world record from Manchester in the women's up to 79kg category. She lifted 143kg to take the glory.

Reigning world champion Bonnie Gustin of Malaysia was the only expected record-breaker in the men's up to 72kg category with a 230kg-lift in the fourth attempt.


Tokyo International Forum was the home of 178 Para powerlifters at the Tokyo 2020 Games with 20 sets of medals up for grabs.

Egypt's Sherif Osman made headlines chasing his fourth consecutive gold but being stopped in the attempt by China's Qi Yongkai in the men's up to 59kg category.

Both athletes lifted 187kg in their final attempt but Yongkai took the victory because of the lower body weight.

Herbert Aceituno of El Salvador won bronze in the same category taking the country's first-ever Paralympic medal.

Mexico's queen Amalia Perez won her sixth Paralympic medal and fourth gold in the women's up to 61kg category.

She is the most decorated Para powerlifter of all time at the Paralympic Games together with Egypt's Fatma Omar. They both have four golds and two silvers at the Paralympics from Sydney 2000 to Tokyo 2020.

Omar won silver in Tokyo in the women's up to 67kg category behind China's Tan Yujiao who won her second-straight Paralympic gold.

Another Chinese Liu Lei announced his retirement from the sport after winning the fourth consecutive Paralympic gold in the men's up to 65kg category. The 33-year-old athlete equaled countryman Haidong Zhang's record of four consecutive gold medals at the Games.

Para powerlifting competition at the Tokyo 2020 was special for numerous countries. Kazakhstan, Jordan, Brazil, Malaysia, and Mongolia all won their first Paralympic gold medals.

David Degtyarev triumphed in the men's up to 54kg for Kazakstan, Omar Qarada took the victory in the up to 49kg category, while Bonnie Gustin of Malaysia broke the Paralympic record (228kg-lift) in the up to 72kg category.

Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar of Mongolia won the country's first and only medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in the men's up to 107kg category with Brazil's Mariana D'Andrea triumphant in the women's up to 73kg category.

Chinese athletes topped the medals table in Para Powerlifting at the Tokyo 2020 with seven golds and six silver medals. Nigeria took second place with three golds, one silver, and two bronze medals.

Jordan caught everyone by surprise taking three golds having only won gold at the Paralympic Games once before Tokyo 2020 in any sport.

Abdelkareem Khattab in the men's up to 88kg category and Jamil Elshebli in the men's over 107kg category joined Omar Qarada as the other winners for Jordan at the Tokyo International Forum.


The best Para Powerlifters gathered for the last time this year at the Tbilisi 2021 World Para Powerlifting Junior and Senior Championships from 27 November until 6 December.

Great Britain's Olivia Broome was the biggest star of the Junior Worlds winning the gold medal with a new world record in the women's up to 50kg category. She also took silver in the senior competition behind Egypt's Rehab Ahmed only four months after taking bronze at the Tokyo 2020.

Ahmed's compatriot Sherif Osman redeemed himself for winning 'only' silver at the Paralympic Games with a fifth-consecutive Worlds gold. He triumphed in the men's up to 59kg category with a 195kg-lift in the third attempt. Egyptian legend was never in doubt for the first place.

Mexico's Amalia Perez won second gold of the year after triumphing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. She won the women's up to 61kg to take the fourth Worlds title.

Among many world records broken in Tbilisi, one stood out in the men's up to 88kg. Jordan's Abdelkareem Khattab improved on his world record from Dubai in June by 10kg and lifted an incredible 250kg in the fourth attempt.

Nigeria's Lucy Ejike, Bose Omolayo, and Folashade Oluwafemiayo dominated the women's heavyweight categories. Ejike took gold in the up to 67kg category, while Omolayo and Oluwafemiayo broke world records in the up to 79kg and 86kg categories.

Iranian athletes Aliakbar Gharibshi and Ahmad Aminzadeh triumphed in the men's up to 107kg and over 107kg categories. Gharibshi lifted 251kg to break the world record and defeat the reigning Paralympic champion Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar.

Aminzadeh took the gold medal in his first international competition paying tribute to the late legend of the sport Siamand Rahman.

David Degtyarev and Herbert Aceituno made history again for their countries. Degtyarev won gold in the men's up to 54kg category, while Aceituno took silver behind Osman in the men's up to 59kg category. Those were Kazakhstan's and El Salvador's historic first medals at the World Championships.

Another Paralympic giant India won its first Para powerlifting medal at the World Championships stage. Parmjeet Kumar won bronze in the men's up to 49kg category where Jordan's Omar Qarada successfully finished the year with Paralympic and Worlds title.

China left Tbilisi topping the medals table again. The Asian country won five golds, four silvers, and four bronze medals. Iran ended the competition in second place with Nigeria in third.

World Para Powerlifting community will remember 2021 for many great achievements but also for a sad loss. Nigeria's legend Paul Kehinde passed away at the age of 33. He is the Rio 2016 Paralympic and Mexico City 2017 world champion.