The first Paralympic ranking competition to take place in Africa will get underway on Tuesday (15 September) in Brazzaville, Congo, with Paralympic and world champions amongst those looking to impress.
Nigerian world and Paralympic champion Yakubu Adesokan will compete in the men’s up to 49kg, looking to reclaim his world record from Vietnam’s van Cong Le. The mark fell to Le at the 2015 IPC Asian Open Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in July.
Adesokan’s world champion compatriot Abdulazeez Ibrahim will enhance the Nigerian team, and the competition, through a battle with Egypt’s Mohamed Eldib in the men’s up to 97kg.
After a close finish at the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships in Dubai, UAE, Eldib could not beat the Nigerian, who left with the gold.
However in early 2015, Eldib added 1kg onto his own 240kg world record, ensuring a close match-up that will once again come to the fore this week.
Egyptian world record holder Sherif Othman will look to continue his dominance of the men’s up to 59kg, having moved up to the weight category in 2015. Othman has been in great form since the move, setting a new world best of 210kg in Dubai, UAE, in March.
Othman’s teammate Mohamed Elelfat, the men’s up to 72kg world champion, is also in Brazzaville.
Elelfat won silver at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the men’s up to 75kg before the weight categories were changed, and has since become one of the top athletes in his bracket.
In the women’s events, Nigeria’s Precious Orji, the women’s over 86kg world champion, has enjoyed a great year on the bench.
Orji won gold at the 2015 Asian Open with a new world record of 153kg and is on her road to her first Paralympic Games in Rio.
The women’s up to 86kg will be a straight face-off between Orji’s compatriot Loveline Obiji and Egyptian Randa Mahmoud.
At the Worlds, Mahmoud just edged Obiji by 1kg to take the title and a new world record of 143kg. However at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Obiji claimed revenge by adding a further 1kg onto the mark.
World champion Esther Oyema rounds off the Nigerian gold medal hopes in the women’s up to 55kg.
The favourite in the women’s up to 45kg is Egypt’s Zeinab Oteify. Having just missed out on a medal at the Worlds with a fourth-place finish, Oteify was still the highest placed African finisher.
Competition runs in Brazzaville until Friday (18 September) and features nearly 100 athletes from 20 countries.
Live results will be available via the IPC Powerlifting website.