The world title is no longer missing from Lucy Ejike´s trophy cabinet after she won the women’s up to 61kg at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in Mexico City on the fourth day of competition (5 December).
Nigeria’s three-time Paralympic champion cleared the bar at 130kg in her first attempt. Even though she failed to lift 135kg and 140kg in the following two attempts and could not break her own world record of 142kg, Ejike knew that her main goal had already been met.
With a smile from ear-to-ear, the 40-year-old expressed her feelings while holding the gold medal in her hands. “I am very happy to have claimed my first world title, this is a dream come true. At the same time, I did expect to achieve a better mark. But this is big for me,” she said.
China’s Jianjin Cui also celebrated a landmark achievement, taking silver after missing out on the podium at Kuala Lumpur 2010 and Dubai 2014, while Ukraine's 38-year-old Tetyana Shyrokolava sealed bronze.
Another Paralympic champion who celebrated victory on Tuesday was Iran´s Majid Farzin, who proved the strongest in the men´s up to 80kg thanks to a 227kg lift in his first attempt. Although he was far from his world record of 240kg, he was still excited about returning to the top of the podium at a World Championships after seven years.
“I want to thank and dedicate this medal to all the people from my country. This is for them,” said Farzin with an Iranian flag hanging around his neck. “This is the best way of thanking my family and all those who supported me along the way. My next goal is the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.”
China´s Gu Xiaofei came close to defending his world title but could not lift 227kg in his last attempt, which would have given him the gold due to a lower body weight than Farzin. Despite having to settle for silver Xiaofei still left satisfied with his performance and confident ahead of future competitions.
Jordan´s 26-year-old and Asian champion Abdelkareem Khattab collected bronze, his first medal at a World Championships.
Ukraine´s Rio 2016 gold medallist Lidiia Soloviova won her last world title in 2006 and will have to wait at least two more years to see if she can regain the throne in the women´s up to 50kg after delivering a disappointing performance at Mexico City 2017.
The 39-year-old cleared the bar at 103kg before failing to lift 107kg twice, the mark that got her gold at Rio 2016, and surprisingly ended off the podium in fourth place. Soloviova left the competition area with an expression of anger on her face, knowing she had missed a good chance.
Her main opponent Rehab Ahmed seized the opportunity to take the gold with a lift of 113kg. It was sweet revenge for the Egyptian for last year's Paralympics, when she claimed silver behind Soloviova.
“This is so great for me, I am happy. I got what I was coming for,” said Ahmed after receiving the gold medal. “Now my full focus will be on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and delivering my best performance. For the time being, though, I want to celebrate and rest.”
Vietnam´s Thi Linh Phuong Dang lifted 98kg in her first attempt and then progressed to 104kg and 107kg to claim a much-celebrated silver medal. The 34-year-old took one step forward from Rio 2016, where she won bronze after clearing the bar at 102kg.
At only 16-year-old, Besra Duman (106kg) produced the best performance of her short career by sealing bronze and showed huge potential for future major competitions. It was Turkey´s second medal in powerlifting at Mexico City 2017 after Nazmiye Muratli had taken silver in the women´s up to 45kg last Monday (4 December).
More information on the World Para Powerlifting Championships, including live coverage, results and athlete profiles can be found on Mexico City 2017’s website.