The bar is loaded: Powerlifters ready for Rio 2016
After setting world records in 15 out of the 20 weight categories in 2015, 183 lifters are ready for the most competitive Paralympic Games yet.06 Sep 2016
Siamand Rahman Ones to Watch main picture
More than 180 powerlifters from 62 countries are ready to take to the bench in the Riocentro Pavilion 2 from 8-14 September for what is expected to be the most competitive Paralympic Games in history.
For the last four years athletes have been building towards Rio 2016. World records were broken in 15 out of the 20 medal events at regional Championships in 2015 as athletes set themselves up perfectly for the pinnacle of their career.
The opening day of competition will see Nigeria’s London 2012 champion Yakubu Adesokan take on Vietnamese world record holder Van cong Le in the men’s up to 49kg.
Just 1kg has separated the pair at their last two meetings, with one win each going into the Paralympics.
“My aim is to do better than my previous outing at the London 2012 Games,” Adesokan said. “I hope that the whole world will stand up to watch the Nigerian flag in our venue as they recite my country’s national anthem again in Rio.”
In the women’s up to 41kg, also on 8 September, Turkey’s Paralympic, world and European title holder Nazmiye Muratli will look to beat China’s world record holder Zhe Cui.
Great Britain’s world champion Ali Jawad and Egypt’s world record holder Sherif Osman will meet each other for the first time in the men’s up to 59kg on 9 September.
Osman moved up to Jawad’s weight category after the 2014 World Championships and the pair have been swapping weight categories ever since.
Fans will finally get to see the showdown they have been waiting for at Rio 2016.
Mexico’s most prolific Paralympian, Amalia Perez, will compete at her fifth Paralympic Games in the women’s up to 55kg.
The 41-year-old has never finished off the podium, highlighted by gold medals from both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
She will compete on 10 September having chosen a lighter weight category than previously, where she competed in the up to 61kg as the Paralympic, world and Parapan American champion.
A gold medallist from the last two Paralympic Games, China’s Lei Liu is the man to beat in the men’s up to 72kg on 11 September.
He moved to the category after winning the world title in the men’s up to 65kg in 2014, going on to set a new 226kg world record in February 2016.
In the women’s up to 67kg China’s Yujiao Tan has won every competition she has taken on since winning gold at London 2012. This includes a World Championships, Asian Para Games, and Asian and European Open Championships.
Her world record lift of 138kg from the European Open in 2015 sees her tower over her competitors in the rankings, and was her second world record in four years. She will go for gold on 11 September.
The women’s up to 79kg features Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Hui Lin, who has competed at every Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000. Her fantastic record has seen her finish on the podium at the last three editions.
This included a bronze from London 2012, despite injuring her shoulder. She is also the reigning world champion and former world record holder.
Nigeria’s current world record holder Bose Omolayo currently occupies the No. 1 position in the rankings, and will be a tough competitor for Lin in her quest for gold on 12 September.
Egypt’s Paralympic champion Hany Abdelhady was riding high after winning Paralympic gold in London, but did not manage to medal in the men’s up to 88kg at the 2014 World Championships.
That left his Jordanian rival Mutaz Zakaria Aljuneidi to claim the gold with what was then a world record lift of 229kg.
But Abdelhady came out fighting in 2016, securing his own world record of 233kg. Catch the pair in action on 13 September.
A gripping competition between Azerbaijan’s Elshan Huseynov and Greek world champion Pavlos Mamalos in the men’s up to 107kg at the 2015 European Open Championships left the audience open mouthed.
Huseynov only managed one good lift of 234kg in the second round, failing 241kg in his last attempt. Mamalos went on to secure the European title with a second round lift of 235kg.
But it did not end there. Huseynov came back out to make a daring attempt at the world record, and succeeded with a haul of 243kg.
“I have a silver and a bronze medal from the Beijing and the London Paralympics and I would really like to add a gold to my collection,” said Mamalos.
Catch this great rivalry in action on 14 September, when things are sure to bubble over once again.
Concluding the final day of competition, and perhaps providing the most memorable moment, is Iran’s Siamand Rahman in the men’s over 107kg.
You will often hear the world and Paralympic champion referred to as the ‘World’s Strongest Paralympian’.
It is a title that is fully deserved. In four years, the now 28-year-old has broken the men’s over 107kg world record no less than nine times.
His mark of 296kg is the equivalent of three baby elephants. But perhaps the most important, and unbelievable, thing to remember is that Rahman has been holding back.
He has been saving his best performance for Rio 2016, where he is targeting 300kg.
Live coverage, a full schedule and results of the Rio 2016 powerlifting competition will be shown at Paralympic.org between 8-14 September.