In a year in which Para sports have been hugely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vera Muratova is a rare case of an athlete with a title to celebrate. The Russian was the winner of the first Online World Cup Series, presented by BIGSER.
“I could not fully believe that I would be lucky to take first place,” Muratova said. “It is very pleasant and joyful. The Series were interesting and exciting. It was a little hard, but I am glad that I was able to go through all the stages from start to finish. The event will forever remain in my heart.”
The competition was launched by World Para Powerlifting back in April, when most of the world was under lockdown because of the coronavirus. Athletes could compete from home, submitting videos of their lifts through an online platform.
“The competition was able to breathe life not only into us, athletes, but also into Para powerlifting,” added Muratova. who is based in Lakinsk, located around 150 km east from Russian capital Moscow.
“I am grateful to all people who were involved in it: organisers, Technical Officials, staff. I would like to say thank you [to all of them] for their support and the opportunity not to fade away, but to move forward,” she said.
The Series were divided in five competitions, with nine athletes qualifying for the Finals which took place on 17 November. Muratova competed in all five Series, winning three and finishing second in two of them.
The 40-year-old kept her consistency through the Finals to make history and receive a bar from World Para Powerlifting Official Partner Eleiko as an award for her title.
A bronze medallist in the World Championships at Dubai 2014 and Nur-Sultan 2019, Muratova will now focus on her second Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year. But she will also enjoy every opportunity to be in competition again and meet other athletes.
“I am looking forward to all of us being able to go to the next events and meet our friends from other countries,” she said. “The Online World Cup allowed us not to think about the pandemic, but to concentrate on training.”