Nigerian Adesokan hopes powerlifting will grow in African region

World champion hopes to put in ‘outrageous’ performance at the first Paralympic ranking event to take place in the African region. 12 Sep 2015
Nigeria's Yakubu Adesokan winning gold at London 2012

Nigeria's Yakubu Adesokan winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Caryn Maconi

“A second consecutive Paralympic gold medal in my name shall be a great honour and respect, for my country and me, in the world history of IPC Powerlifting.”

Yakubu Adesokan, Nigeria’s powerlifting world champion in the men’s up to 49kg, is anxiously awaiting the chance to compete in IPC Powerlifting’s first Paralympic rankings competition in Africa from 15 September.

Para-sport progress in Africa

The event is set for Brazzaville, capital city of the Congo. Competitors from across the African region will be in attendance, from Paralympic medallists and world champions to developmental athletes at the start of their careers.

Adesokan competes as the Paralympic gold medallist from London 2012 where he won Nigeria’s first gold of either the Olympic or Paralympic Games in the men’s up to 48kg.

Since London 2012, Adesokan said, interest in para-sport in his country has been on an upward trajectory. Still, there is plenty of work to be done – and he hopes September’s powerlifting event will expose even more Africans to the world of para-sport.

“The African IPC competition in September will surely revive and foster furthermore the Paralympic Movement within the region,” Adesokan said. “For the future of Paralympic sports development, its awareness and support are increasing.”

World record on his mind

In addition to growing the Movement, Adesokan has his own personal goals for the competition. Having lost his up to 49kg world record last October to Vietnam’s Van Cong Le, the Nigerian is eager to see his name atop the charts once again.

“Having been on top before the defeat at the hands of Van Cong Le, who happens to be a friend, I must come back to fight harder,” Adesokan said. “It is my desire to put forth outrageous performances in this year’s competitions, which will boost my world ranking and also present me as one of the strong athletes to beat at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.”

Le first challenged Adesokan in 2014 by equalling his then-world record of 176kg at the ASEAN Para Games in Myanmar. Le then leapt ahead with a 181.5 kg lift at the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games, and further increased the mark to 182kg at the 2015 Asian Open Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Adesokan has consistently finished on Le’s heels at recent competitions, earning a close silver medal in Almaty.

Whether or not Adesokan can reclaim the world record in the Congo, he is ultimately focused on gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“A second consecutive Paralympic gold medal in my name shall be a great honour and respect, for my country and me, in the world history of IPC Powerlifting,” Adesokan said.

Though para-powerlifting may still be unfamiliar to many in Nigeria, Adesokan believes he has a strong group of supporters who will see him through to glory in Rio.

“I benefit from the support and encouragement of my country,” Adesokan said. “By providing a conducive sporting village, facilities and funds, as well close monitoring of my training by experienced coaches and technical team, they give me adequate mental relaxation while preparing for an important competition.”

Nearly 100 athletes from 20 countries will compete in the IPC Powerlifting event as part of the 2015 All African Games.