“This is a big unique opportunity because it will allow many people who I know to come and watch me compete. Berck-Sur-Mer is only an hour from my home commune, Saint-Saulve, so it is a mini-trip to get there.”
Souhad Ghazouani may have already won more than a Para athlete can dream of.
But the Frenchwoman has an exciting new goal ahead as she is set to compete at an international event in front of her home crowd for the first time in her career when she participates in the World Para Powerlifting European Open Championships in Berck-Sur-Mer, from 25-29 May.
“This is a big unique opportunity because it will allow many people who I know to come and watch me compete,” the 35-year-old said. “Berck-Sur-Mer is only an hour from my home commune, Saint-Saulve, so it is a mini-trip to get there.”
Ghazouani took up the sport at six-years-old and has not abandoned it ever since. “I love the fact that it's an individual sport and I have to depend on myself to achieve results. It allows me to expend all my energy which helps to calm me, and I also like to be stronger than the men,” she said.
Even though she also competed in wheelchair racing at a national level, she decided to fully focus on powerlifting due to her potential in the sport.
She already showed how strong she was at the 2002 World Championships, her first major international competition, where she sealed bronze.
Ghazouani, who is trained by her husband and coach Mehdi Ourizat, won Paralympic and world silver medals before claiming gold at the 2010 Worlds, her first major title.
She later sealed her first Paralympic gold at London 2012 and a silver at Rio 2016. But Ghazouani rapidly bounced back to return to the top of the podium at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City with a 145kg lift, 5kg less than the world record she had set at the 2013 Europeans.
“In Mexico, I did not repeat my technical mistake from Rio,” she said. Looking ahead to this year’s European Championships, she hopes to “set a new world record.”
Further in the future, Ghazouani already dreams with Tokyo 2020. “It is not far away,” she said.
Around 250 athletes from 30 countries are expected to compete at Berck-Sur-Mer 2018 between 25 and 30 May.
More information about the World Para Powerlifting European Championships is available online.