“Since the heartbreak of London 2012, I promised myself I would never feel anything like that again on an international platform”
Great Britain’s Ali Jawad has spoken candidly about how his world record lift at the 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships finally allowed him to lay the ghosts of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 to rest.
“The performance in Dubai was career-defining,” Jawad said. “I felt so relieved that all the sacrifice and hard work had paid off, and finally I would not be considered as the ‘nearly man’ of the sport. It showed that with hard work, I could come back from adversity and succeed.”
In Dubai, UAE, Jawad, 25, hauled 190kg to add 5kg onto his own world record in the men’s -59kg.
“Since the heartbreak of London 2012, I promised myself I would never feel anything like that again on an international platform,” he said.
Jawad was born without legs and grew up competing at an international level in judo. He discovered the sport of powerlifting in 2006, and two years later was set to represent Great Britain at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The night before his competition, though, Jawad fell ill.
Though he still competed, the medal favourite turned in a disappointing ninth-place finish. Eight months later, Jawad found out that his illness was due to Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory condition that affects the intestines. He has been living with the disease, and still competing at the elite level, ever since.
At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Jawad had hoped to erase the memory of Beijing. Though he turned in a much better performance than he had in 2008, he narrowly missed the podium with a devastating fourth-place finish in front of his home crowd.
Those set-backs now seem like a distant memory.
The road to Rio – history in the making?
Now that Jawad has finally bagged an international title, he can look towards raising the bar even further.
No athlete with Crohn’s disease has ever won gold at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, something which Jawad hopes to change at Rio 2016.
“It has been a roller coaster journey suffering with Crohn’s disease,” Jawad said. “Not many doctors believed I could compete at the world class level, and they advised me to retire. But I’m the type of person who sees the end goal and will not be satisfied until I achieve it. I have one goal in Rio 2016, and that is to win the gold medal.”
For Jawad, victory in Rio would mean more than personal glory, it would also be a chance to inspire people with Crohn’s disease worldwide.
“My sole motivation in training is to try to push the boundaries of what the human body can tolerate with Crohn’s disease,” Jawad said. “I have had the dream of winning Paralympic gold since I was six years old, and I want to fight for my dream.”
Before that, the Leeds based powerhouse is preparing for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in July, where he aims to add yet more to his world record with an historic 200kg lift.