Nazmiye Muratli was the star of the first day (25 May) of competition at the European Open Championships in Berck-Sur-Mer, France. Turkey’s Rio 2016 champion took gold in a highly-competitive women's up to 50kg event.
She started with a 105kg lift and progressed to 110kg and 111kg to finish top of the podium. Ukraine’s Lidiia Soloviova, who also won Paralympic gold at Rio 2016, finished in second place after lifting 106kg. Spain's Loida Zabala Ollero (90kg) came in third.
“I am very satisfied for having achieved this gold medal because I have been training hard and recovering from a neck injury. So this title goes to my physiotherapist as well,” said Muratli.
“My next goal is to continue raising the bar and lift even heavier weights in the lead-up to the 2019 World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Women’s up to 45kg
Justyna Kozdryk was absolutely delighted with her third consecutive European title. With her usual charm, the Polish celebrated with her team and with everyone who was cheering for her. “I am so happy!” she exclaimed.
The 38-year-old lifted 96kg, same as silver medallist Maryna Kopiika of Ukraine. But Kozdryk ended in first place due to a lower body weight (43.74 versus 44.15). Finland´s Reetta Jokinen (35kg) took bronze.
Two sets of medals are awarded in each event at the Championships. The top three powerlifters overall receive gold, silver and bronze. As well as that, the top three European powerlifters also win medals for being the best in their continent.
The overall podium was won by Indonesia’s Paralympic and Worlds bronze medallist Ni Nengah Widiasih, who cleared the bar at 97kg. Kozdryk took silver and Kopiika bronze. “I feel grateful for winning this gold medal today,” said Widiasih.
Women's up to 41kg
Zoe Newson remained calm throughout the competition and never lost her cool as she won her first major international title in the women's up to 41kg.
The Brit cleared the bar at 91kg to finish top of both the European and overall podiums. “It feels weird because I got used to winning bronze and now I have two golds. I am happy with my performance and did not really expect it,” the two-time Paralympic bronze medallist said.
Ukraine’s Kseniia Tokar (55kg) and Hungary's Katalin Engelhardt (54kg) followed her in the regional standings. As for the Open competition, Brazil’s Lara Aparecida de Lima (65kg) came in second behind Newson, while Tokar claimed bronze.
“I want to have a break now, some time off,” Newson added. “After that, I will start focusing on the 2019 World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Men’s up to 49kg
“It was a surprising victory for me. I will probably celebrate once back home with my wife,” said Azerbaijan's Parvin Mammadov still fresh from winning gold.
It was the first major title for the 23-year-old, who cleared the bar at 143kg. Mammadov ended ahead of Turkey's Abdullah Kayapinar (135kg) and Poland's Slawomir Szymanski (117kg).
The overall podium was also topped by Mammadov, but in this case he was followed by Brazil's Joao Maria Franca Junior, who set a new Americas record of 137kg. Kayapinar collected bronze.
Competition continues on Saturday (26 May) with Great Britain's 2014 world champion Ali Jawad competing in the men's up to 54kg. Also, the men's up to 59kg will feature a Latin American showdown with Chile's Juan Carlos Garrido facing Brazil's Bruno Carra.
The women's up to 55kg and 61kg events will also be contested.
All events are streamed live on World Para Powerlifting's website and Facebook page.
Live results and a full competition schedule is available on Berck-Sur-Mer 2018's website.