"Now my next target is the World Championships where I will be looking to break the world record once again and winning my first gold. And my dream is to win the Tokyo 2020 gold. I am working hard for that”
Ukrainian Mariana Shevchuk had a sense of déjà vu as she failed in her first attempt at the 10th Fazza World Para Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai, United Emirates Arab, on Saturday (9 February).
She was frustrated but knew this indicated something else. Much like her world record effort last year at the European Open Championships, Shevchuk came out fearlessly to lift 131kg in her third attempt and broke her own word record (130.5 kg) on her way to clinching the women’s up to 55kg gold.
Her scream of joy was already a signal to her opponents getting ready for the World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, in July.
“I am very happy to start the season with this result. I had trained hard to achieve little more than this, but that’s okay. It’s just the beginning of the year. Now my next target is the World Championships where I will be looking to break the world record once again and winning my first gold,” said Shevchuk.
“And my dream is to win the Tokyo 2020 gold. I am working hard for that,” added the Ukrainian, voted 2018's powerlifter of the year.
Asked if she was thinking about any number at the Worlds, the 2018 World Championship silver medallist said:
“I don’t think about numbers. It’s bad luck. I always go into a competition to win the gold. For me, winning gives me the push to achieve more and more.”
Uzbekistan’s Ruza Kuzieva and Turkey’s Besra Duman put up some fight but had to be content with their final lifts of 110kg each. Kuzieva took the silver owing to lower body weight (51.46kg) ahead of Duman (54.17kg).
Among other top names, Egyptian legend Sherif Osman clinched the men’s up to 59 kg gold with a lift of 200kg, and was happy to start the season on a strong note.
The 36-year-old, a clear favourite for the title, was far ahead of the second placed Kuldeep Singh (125 kg) of India and Ukraine’s Denys Ostapuk (116 kg).
For the fans who were expecting a world record, Osman gave a hint about what comes next.
“I am saving this special moment for the World Championships in July,” said the Egyptian.
Osman, who recovered from a shoulder niggle recently, said he is completely fit now and is ready to defend his World records for the next 10 years.
“For me, winning six Paralympic gold is the target now.”
More gold for Egypt
There was more gold for Egypt in the women’s up to 50kg. Rio 2016 silver medallist and 2017 world champion Rehab Ahmed upset Ukraine’s veteran powerlifter Lidia Soloviova, Rio 2016 gold medallist, with a lift of 117kg to take the gold.
She stayed ahead of others right from the start going for 112 kg in the first attempt, while Soloviova attempted 105 kg. Great Britain’s promising athlete Olivia Broome claimed the bronze with a lift of 92kg.
Current world record holder and Rio 2016 champion Nazmiye Muratli of Turkey kept her good record intact and topped the women’s up to 45kg event with a lift of 100kg.
Indonesia’s Ni Nengah Widiasih was also in the contention for the top position but settled for the silver with her final lift of 97kg, ahead of Poland’s Justina Kozdryk (97kg) owing to lower body weight (42.60kg against 43.40kg).
Algeria’s Hocine Bettir put his country on the top of podium in the day’s final event, the men’s up to 65kg. His lift of 191 kg was one kilogram ahead of silver medallist Bonnie Bunyau Gustin of Malaysia. Jordania’s Mohammad Tarbash took bronze (181kg).
The World Cup continues on Sunday (10) in Dubai with five events. Live streaming and full results are available on World Para Powerlifting's website.