"By doing this sport, I felt support and acceptance from others. I felt honoured and I found my value and the meaning of existence. I have every reason to love the sport.”
Yujiao Tan is confident she can break her own world record at the Asia-Oceania Open Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan. The Chinese powerlifter, who lifted 138.5kg in the women’s up to 67kg at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, believes she can surpass that mark in September.
“I will give my best looking to achieve my goal of breaking the world record and, of course, collecting the gold medal,” the reigning world and Paralympic champion said.
Apart from the many titles, the 27-year-old is grateful to powerlifting for having helped her develop as a person and make lots of friends.
“I am hoping to renew my friendship with other powerlifters in Japan,” she said. “My favourite part of powerlifting is that I can challenge myself and outdo myself. I am thinking maybe it’s what has helped me realise my value.”
Yujiao also recalled her first victory at a national powerlifting competition in 2003 as the start of her fruitful career.
“My family was not rich; I have been an independent girl since I was very young. That small victory lit my dream of becoming a champion and I have been working on realising my dream since then,” she said.
Encouraged by her then-middle school teacher, Yujiao switched to a sports school where she could both study and pursue her sporting dreams.
“My youth, passion, hope and efforts were fully focused on powerlifting,” the 2014 Asian Para Games champion said.
“I grew, gained confidence, had joy and made friends. By doing this sport, I felt support and acceptance from others. I felt honoured and I found my value and the meaning of existence. I have every reason to love the sport.”
As she gets ready for Kitakyushu 2018, Yujiao already targets success at another competition on Japanese soil set to take place in two years-time: the 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Every lift is a step closer to Tokyo.”