Dubai 2023: Galaxy of stars ready to take centre stage again

Rookie & Next Gen events kick off the action on Tuesday as UAE hosts the Para Powerlifting World Championships for the third time in history 21 Aug 2023
A male powerlifter standing in front of the crowd during a competition
Egypt's Sherif Osman will be in search of his sixth World Championships gold medal this year in Dubai
ⒸHiroki Nishioka / WPPO
By World Para Powerlifting

A galaxy of stars including Paralympic and world champions, is set to take the centre stage with their incredible display of power and strength when Dubai, United Arab Emirates hosts the Para Powerlifting World Championships from Tuesday 22 August to 30 August.

This will be the third time the Emirate will host the Para Powerlifting Worlds after the 2014 and 1998 editions and this year, the event will witness around 500 elite powerlifters (including 56 juniors) from 80 countries vying for top honours at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City. 

What to expect

One should expect thrilling contests with seasoned and newcomers (six new nations) fighting to improve their world rankings in the build-up to the Paris 2024 Paralympics. 

The Dubai 2023 Worlds will also see in action many of the names that will be featuring in the regional Games - Asian Para Games and Parapan American Games - lined up later in the year.

Above all, several records – including world and regional records – are set to be broken to highlight the nine-day event that begins with the Rookie & Next Gen World Championships on Tuesday (22 August) followed by the Elite Worlds starting on Wednesday (23).

The competition will be streamed live on World Para Powerlifting website and Facebook channel. 

Home challenge 

Legend Mohammed Khamis Khalaf will yet again lead the challenge of the home nation. A two-time Paralympic champion, he is the star of a team of 15 members ready to make a mark in front of home fans. Khalaf will be joined by his Dubai Club for People of Determination trainee Fahad Mohammed, both competing in men’s up to 97kg, and Adel Shanbih (men’s up to 88kg), all of whom had won medals at last year’s Dubai World Cup.  

“I will try to get a new number for myself. This is an important event and I want to put all my focus and power to get a good result. Though it won’t be easy,” said the 54-year-old Khalaf, who is expected to be challenged by athletes from Jordan, China and Iran, among others in his category. 

International Stars 

Any international competition line-up would be incomplete without the presence of Para powerlifting legends Amalia Perez from Mexico and Sherif Osman from Egypt.

Both Sherif and Perez are returning to one of their favourite destinations, where they had one of their career's most memorable moments: the gold medals at the 2014 Worlds.

The Egyptian will be making his season debut in Dubai aiming for a sixth world title at his seventh World Championships participation. 
"My body feels good, and I am aiming for the gold yet again. Many special memories of my career have been created in Dubai and I hope I am able to create more, this week," said Osman who broke the world record four times before taking the gold at the 2014 Worlds in Dubai.

There are others who have raised the bar in the recent past and made a place for themselves including Jordanian Paralympic champion Abdelkareem Khattab (men’s up to 97kg), who has created a stir with three world records in the last 2022 World Cup in Dubai. 

Malaysia’s Paralympic and world champion Bonnie Bunyau Gustin will be another star to watch out for in men’s up to 72kg. He has been unstoppable ever since he claimed double World title (senior and junior) at Nur-Sultan 2019. 

Motivated Perez

In women’s events, Mexico’s five-time world champion Perez is motivated to start her campaign at the destination where she has ruled before. 

“This is one of the championships I have been waiting for a long time – a very important event to make yourself booked for the Paralympics. The competitions will be tough, but I think I will be ready for the challenge,” said Perez, who will be seen competing in a new weight category, the women’s up to 67kg.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s two-time Paralympic medallist Ni Nengah Widiasih will also be in action in a new weight category and hoping to create the same magic like in her previous up to 41kg.

“It’s nice to be back in Dubai. For me though, this event will be to try and see how I fare in the new weight category. With Chinese athletes competing, it won’t be easy. I will try my best to improve my medal colour,” said the Indonesian, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver medallist.

China, Nigeria in focus

China topped the medals table at the last Worlds in Tbilisi, Georgia and the Paralympic Games in Tokyo two years ago, and will be keen to extend their domination in Dubai. Among the stars of the Chinese team are Guo Lingling (women’s up to 45kg) and Cui Zhe (women’s up to 41kg) – who have switched their weight category –, Tan Yujiao (women’s up to 67kg), Qi Yongkai (men’s up to 59kg) and Yan Panpan (men’s up to 97kg).

Similarly, all eyes will be on Nigerian female powerlifters Lucy Ejike (women’s up to 67kg), Bose Omolayo (women’s up to 79kg), Folashade Oluwafemiayo (women’s over 86kg) to emerge winners in Dubai.

In men’s heavyweight events, Iran will have a few ones to watch out for - Rostami Roohallah (men's up to 80kg), Seyedhamed Solhipouravanji (men’s up to 97kg), Gharibshahi Aliakbar (men' up to 107kg) and Ahmad Aminzadeh (men's over 107kg). Two Iranian women will make history by representing their country for the first time, Mahdieh Mohammadian Sarcheshmeh (women's up to 55kg) and Nikoo Rozbahani (women's over 86kg).

Where to watch

The Dubai 2023 Para Powerlifting World Championships will be streamed live on World Para Powerlifting Facebook channel and Paralympics YouTube channel.

Complete schedule and results from the Rookie & Next Gen and the Elite World Championships are available here.