Paralympic stars gather in Dubai for season opener World Cup

A star-studded line-up of Paralympic and world champions ready to begin their quest for Paris 2024 qualification in first World Cup of 2024 28 Feb 2024
A man on a bench press looking at the discs
Malaysian star Bonnie Gustin will be returning to Dubai where he won his third world title last year
ⒸHiroki Nishioka/WPPO
By World Para Powerlifting

Just six months have passed since Dubai, United Arab Emirates staged the World Para Powerlifting Championship. And the emirate is all geared up to welcome again the world’s finest athletes at the season-opening Dubai 2024 Para Powerlifting World Cup from 29 February to 6 March.

While the field include 200 athletes from 32 countries, the star-studded line-up will have Paralympic, world and continental champions returning to their happy hunting venue, the Dubai Club for People of Determination halls – a regular stop for international stars in the World Para Powerlifting calendar. 

The World Cup also offers important world rankings points in the athletes' qualification pathway for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, the deadline of which is July 2024.

Click here to watch all the action live on You Tube.

Exhilarating action

The exhilarating action begins from the opening day with Chinese world champions Cui Zhe and Guo Lingling, also the Paralympic champion in women’s up to 41kg, set to begin their season on a strong note.

Lingling (women’s up to 45kg) will be hoping to continue her incredible run in Dubai which saw her setting new world records in the past. The one to remember was her powerful show at the Dubai 2023 World Championships when she bettered her own world mark twice at 120kg and took the gold in women’s up to 41kg.

Likewise, Roohallah Rostami, the current Paralympic and world champion from Iran, will be aiming to continue his winning run in Dubai in the only men’s event of day one. 

Iran will also have a few other top names in their line-up during the week including powerful Aliakbar Gharibshahi, the current world champion in men’s up to 107kg, Ahmad Aminzadeh and Mahdi Sayadi, the gold and silver medallists in men’s over 107kg at last year’s Worlds, alongside Seyedhamed Solhipouravanji, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver medallist, and Amir Jafari Arangeh, Paralympic and Worlds silver medallist in men’s up to 65kg. 

"I am happy to be back in Dubai - I feel like home," said Gharibshahi. "This is an important event in my preparation for Paris 2024 where I am aiming for the gold medal."

Gustin's happy memories

Much like Lingling, Malaysia’s Paralympic and world champion Bonnie Bunyau Gustin will look to stamp his dominance yet again and relive his happy memories in the city, when he is up in action on the second day in the men’s up to 72kg. 

Gustin had always admitted his liking to perform in Dubai where he had broken several records including the world record at last year's Worlds. 

" I like to compete in Dubai – it brings me great results.” Gustin had said. "I look to improve every time and that helps me chasing my dreams.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s Le Van Cong will be the name to watch out for in men’s up to 49kg. Having been down with injury in 2018, Van Cong’s hunger and determination to win is stronger than ever. The biggest example of this has been his World Championship title last year when he overcame Paralympic champion Omar Qarada for the gold.

Another name eager to succeed in men’s events is Kazakhstan’s David Degtyarev, the current Paralympic and world champion in men’s up to 54 kg.

China's star-studded line-up  

With China fielding the largest team of 19 players, their line-up will also have names like Paralympic and world champion Qi Yongkai (men’s up to 59kg),  Zou Yi, the current world champion in men’s up to 65 kg, and Yan Panpan, the current Paralympic and world champion in the men’s up to 97kg, ready to put up a power-packed show at the Dubai Club for People of Determination halls. 

Besides, China will also have Paralympic and world champion Tan Yujiao (women’s up to 67 kg) keen to start the season on a winning note. 

Yujiao has stamped her dominance last year with world record breaking performances in the Worlds and Asian Para Games. 

“I want to win the gold and break my own world record in Paris 2024 Paralympics,” she said.

Her compatriots Zheng Feifei, world champion and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist in the women’s up to 86 kg, and Deng Xuemei, current Paralympic and world champion in the women’s over 86 kg, are also expected to finish on the top. 

De Andrea’s biggest goal

If you thought there's enough of stars in the line-up, there is more in the women’s event. Brazil’s Mariana D’Andrea will return to Dubai after claiming her world title last year, the first-ever to her country.  

D'Andrea displayed ominous form to break the world record twice before taking the women's up to 73kg gold in Dubai last year.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s world champion Olivia Broome will be aiming another shot at glory in her way to the Paris 2024 Paralympics, her ultimate goal, but in a higher women’s up to 55 kg category.

“I am already working hard towards Paris 2024 Paralympics. And it is something back of my mind. I am always setting news goals for myself, and my goal is to improve and target a medal in the next competition,” said the 22-year-old from Chorley after claiming her first senior world title in women’s up to 50kg last year.

Broome will have to face the challenge of powerful Mariana Shevchuk from Ukraine, the current Paralympic champion and Worlds silver medallist, in her way to glory. 

The hosts United Arab Emirates will be hoping to collect some medals with names like veteran Paralympic star Mohammed Khamis Khalaf and Adel Shanbih (both competing in the men’s up to 88kg category) and Haifa Alnaqbi (women’s up to 73kg) in a team of 13 athletes.

The men's, women's and mixed team events will conclude the six days of action in Dubai on Wednesday, 6 March.

Where to watch

The Dubai 2024 Para Powerlifting World Cup will be streamed live on World Para Powerlifting Facebook channel and Local Organising Committee YouTube channel.

Complete schedule and live results from the World Cup are available here.