"After those Games, I’d promised him I’d do my best in Tokyo, and get the gold medal for him"
Souhad Ghazouani will be France´s main gold medal hope as she competes at the 2019 World Para Powerlifting Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on 17 July.
The 36-year-old and London 2012 gold medallist has won every event she took part in since claiming silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Ghazouani will be defending the women´s up to 73kg title she won at the Mexico City 2017 World Championships, as well as trying to break her own world record of 150kg she set back in 2013.
Her rivals will not fly to Kazakhstan just to make up the numbers, though, with China’s Miaoyu Han, Nigeria’s Paulina Okpala and Morocco’s Sanae Soubane all hoping to cause an upset.
As UAE´s Mohammed Khalaf and Mongolia´s Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar moved up categories, other powerlifters in the men’s up to 88kg have seen their chances of claiming a title increase.
One of them is Rio 2016 silver medallist and Mexico City 2017 bronze medallist Evanio Da Silva. But China´s world champion and world record-holder Ye Jixiong should not be overlooked.
Meanwhile, Bose Omolayo won her maiden Paralympic title in Rio. The Nigerian lifted a then-world record of 138kg to win gold ahead of Xu Lili.
But the Chinese bounced back at the 2017 Worlds. Xu took the title, while Omolayo collected silver. Moreover, Xu broke her world record by clearing the bar at 141kg at the 2018 Asian Para Games.
It will be interesting to see if Omolayo can return to winning-ways in the women´s up to 79kg or Xu will extend her success at Nur-Sultan 2019.
Jose de Jesus Castillo Castillo may be the reigning world champion, but Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar has recently set a world record and will be the favourite for gold to many in the men´s up to 107kg on 18 July, day six.
The Mongolian has been steadily improving since grabbing bronze at Rio 2016. Enkhbayar then switched up from up to 88kg to up to 107kg, taking silver at the 2017 Worlds and gold at the 2018 Asian Para Games.
It was at the latter competition that he even lifted an impressive world record of 244kg. Enkhbayar has another motivation to win the title following the death of his beloved coach Sharav Enkhsaikhan.
“He passed away a year after Rio, where he’d really helped me. After those Games, I’d promised him I’d do my best in Tokyo, and get the gold medal for him. He was a very good trainer. He believed that I could do it. Now I want to win for him,” he said.
Castillo Castillo will also be tough to beat.
The Mexican took bronze at Rio 2016, and gold both at the 2017 Worlds and the 2018 Americas Open Championships.
Folashade Oluwafemiayo will be the clear favourite in the women’s up to 86kg following her Mexico City 2017 title. Nigeria´s 34-year-old followed that up with a world record performance at the 2018 Fazza World Cup, after lifting 146kg.
China’s Zheng Feifei and Li Fengmei will present battle, same as Jordan’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Tharwh Alhajaj.
As Egypt’s Paralympic and world champion, and world record-holder Mohamed Eldib will not be competing in Nur-Sultan, his opponents finally seem to have a chance to win a major competition.
It will likely be a battle between UAE´s Mohammed Khalaf, who this year won both the Eger and Fazza World Cup events, and Colombia’s Fabio Torres, who is still fresh from claiming the Americas title on home soil in Bogota.
The Nur-Sultan 2019 World Championships will take place from 12 to 20 July and you can watch it live on World Para Powerlifting website. https://www.paralympic.org/powerlifting