Dubai 2023: Van Cong wins first Worlds gold in six years

Vietnamese beats Paralympic champion Qarada while China's Zhe takes second world title in a row and Great Britain's Broome picks first senior gold 24 Aug 2023
A powerlifter celebrates his win
Le Van Cong's last World Championships gold medal came six years ago in Mexico 2017.
ⒸMark Madrid / DCPD
By World Para Powerlifting

Le Van Cong’s long wait for a gold medal at the World Championship is finally over.

The Vietnamese came with all confidence and a strong self-belief that he can do it all again, and he did it in style – even overcame his closet rival and Paralympic champion Omar Qarada – en route to winning the men’s up to 49kg gold at the Hilton Dubai – Al Habtoor City on Wednesday (24 August).

The Dubai 2023 Para Powerlifting World Championships has just begun, and the first day indicated that it is going to be a week to be remembered for it is going to be a week of intense.

Mental Strength

Having clinched his first major title at the 2014 Asian Para Games, Van Cong has been on the top of the rankings for almost a decade now. 

He had two successful lifts with the final one putting him one kg above Jordan’s Qarada who settled for the second place with 175kg.

“It’s great to have strong competitors like Qarada in your category. That also motivates one to improve. I believe today I had better mental strength than my competitors,” Van Cong said. “This is a special win as it has come after a long time. After my injury in 2018, I have trained and pushed myself very hard. This gold is a big motivation going ahead as we look to qualify for the Paralympics." 

The shoulder injury five years ago saw the Asian Para Games champion him skipping events and performing cautiously. Now Van Cong is already targeting more glory: “I hope to break the world record in the Asian Para Games.”

In the same category, India’s Parmjeet Kumar, who has claimed his country's first ever World Championships medal two years back – a bronze at Tbilisi 2021 – went on to take the gold in the Total category with a total of 462kg. This was India's first ever gold in senior categories.

Strong women show

The women events too witnessed familiar names emerge winners, but the road was not easy as newcomers had their share of glory too.

Four-time Paralympic silver medallist Cui Zhe set a new Asian record to take the gold medal in the women’s up to 41 kg. Zhe, the 2021 world champion in the up to 45kg category, had three clean and successful lifts with the final attempt of 112kg enough to set a new record and.

"There are two reasons for my victory today. First I improved the strength in my muscles, I can lift 10kg more than ever before. Second, the communication with my coach has been great and that is what led me to the gold medal," Zhe said, after also taking gold in the Total category (327kg). 

“To win the gold was my goal coming here and I will work more to get better result in the next competition. In Hangzhou I will be competing in up to 45kg and hope to make a new world record,” the Chinese added.

Zhe also described Nigeraia’s Esther Nworgu, who holds the current world record at 114kg, as her biggest competitor. “She is very strong and young. She can be very powerful on her day.”

Brilliant Broome

Zhe’s triumph was followed by an electrifying performance from Great Britain’s Olivia Broome in the women's up to 50kg claiming her first senior gold medal after last edition’s silver. 

Broome, the European champion, put up a confident show that saw three comfortable and successful lifts – 106kg, 111kg and 112kg. The former Worlds junior champion and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist finished ahead of Yi Wei (105 kg) of China and Thi Linh Phuong Dang (103 kg) of Vietnam.    

“I am over the moon. It’s more than I could ask for. I am very happy and proud of myself,” said an ecstatic Broome, who also finished first in the Total category (329kg). 

“I am already working hard towards Paris 2024 Paralympics. And it is something back of my mind. I am always setting news goals for myself, and my goal is to improve and target a medal in the next competition,” said the 22-year-old from Chorley in the UK.

“My team, family and friends always motivate me to keep improving. They are proud of me, and I want to make them proud,” she added.

Complete result from the elite competition at the Dubai 2023 World Para Powerlifting Championships can be found here.

The Dubai 2023 Worlds is being streamed live on the World Para Powerlifting website and Facebook channel.