Paralympic and world champions, and world record holders will be among the 117 athletes heading to Manchester, Great Britain, for the World Para Powerlifting World Cup from Thursday to Sunday (20-23 February) in search of crucial Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games qualification ranking points.
This is the second stop of the 2020 World Cup following the season-opener in Abuja, Nigeria, earlier this month.
Home crowd favourite Ali Jawad will meet Greece's Rio 2016 medallist Dimitrios Bakochristos in the up to 54kg category.
Jawad, a former world record holder in the up to 59kg, has had a turbulent time since Rio 2016, suffering from a career-threatening flare-up of Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel condition.
Choosing to delay treatment in order to compete for a place in Tokyo, Jawad has recently shown positive signs of getting back to his best, achieving gold at the Berck-sur-Mer 2018 European Championships and bronze at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The men’s up to 59kg is set to be hotly contested, with Chile’s 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Juan Carlos Garrido coming up against Greece’s European champion Paschalis Kouloumoglou.
This category will also feature Herbert Aceituno from El Salvador who took the 2019 Lima Parapan American Games by storm, becoming a national hero when he won his country’s first gold medal in 20 years, a feat that earned him the accolade of ‘best Para athlete’ at the event.
Great Britain’s double European champion Micky Yule will face stiff competition in the men’s up to 72kg against Paralympic silver medallist and current world No. 1 Rasool Mohsin from Iraq, as well as junior world champion and record holder Donato Telesca of Italy.
In the over 107kg, Great Britain’s Liam McGarry will make his international debut in a field featuring world No. 3 and 2019 Worlds bronze medallist Faris Al-Ageeli of Iraq and Greece’s 2018 European champion Konstantinos Dimou.
The men’s competition will see plenty more European champions in action, including Poland’s Marek Trykacz (up to 65kg), Greece’s Gkremislav Moysiadis (up to 80kg) and France’s Rafik Arabat (up to 88kg).
Double Paralympic bronze medallist Zoe Newson will headline the women’s up to 41kg as she seeks to qualify for her third Games.
Great Britain teammates Olivia Broome and Charlotte McGuinness will contest the up to 50kg, which also features Ukraine’s Lidiia Soloviova who took gold at the Rio 2016 Games and bronze at the Nur-Sultan 2019 Worlds.
Her fellow Ukrainian Mariana Shevchuk will be the one to watch in the up to 55kg. The 23-year-old is the world No. 1, world record holder and reigning World and European champion.
France’s Souhad Ghazouani is the favourite in the up to 73kg with a Paralympic silver, European gold and world record to her name.
The women’s up to 86kg on Sunday 23 February is set to be a spectacle as it features two Rio bronze medallists in Mexico’s Catalina Diaz Vilchis and the Netherlands’ Melaica Tuinfort (who was competing in the over 86kg at the time).
The hosts’ hopes will rest on Louise Sugden, who will be aiming for her first Paralympic Games as a powerlifter. The European champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist has previously competed at two Paralympics (Beijing 2008 and London 2012) in wheelchair basketball and took on powerlifting in 2017.
The Manchester 2020 World Cup will be live on World Para Powerlifting website and World Para Powerlifting Facebook page.