Powerlifters continue to push the limits on Day 3

Esther Oyema, Tamara Podpalnaya and Nader Moradi among the contenders. 01 Sep 2012
Esther Oyema

Powerlifter Esther Oyema in action.


“In Beijing, I was in the running for a medal but lost out on a technicality - a disqualification - so maybe this time I can be the dark horse."

The powerlifting events continue at the ExCeL Arena on Saturday (1 September), with medals being decided in the women’s 48kg, women’s 52kg and men’s 60kg categories respectively.

Women’s 48kg

Nigeria’s Esther Oyema is expected to dominate in the opening event of the day. She is unlikely to be challenged, having qualified with a lift of 135kg.

Oyema was impressive on her way to winning the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India and the 30-year-old will no doubt be the one to beat.

Olesya Lafina of Russia, who lifted 119kg in qualification, will challenge for silver alongside Shi Shanshan of China and Turkey’s Yasemin Ceylan.

Spain’s Loida Zabala Ollero, Ukraine’s Rayisa Toporkova, Armenia’s Greta Vardanyan and Korea’s Jeong Hee Shin complete the line-up.

Women’s 52kg

The women’s 52kg category is expected to be much more competitive.

Russia’s Tamara Podpalnaya will begin as slight favourite after topping qualification with a lift of 125kg.

Podpalnaya won gold in the division at the 2000 and 2004 Paralympic Games and finished second in Beijing in 2008. She is coached by her husband while her daughter competes in para-swimming.

Her nearest challenger is likely to be Joy Onaolapo of Nigeria.

Also in contention for a medal is Xiao Cuijuan of China, who won the gold medal in the women’s 44kg category at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

The only other athletes to lift over 100kg in qualification are Ukraine’s Tetyana Shyrokolava and Egypt’s Gihan Abdelaziz.

Great Britain’s Natalie Blake can expect tremendous support from the home crowd, though she is not likely to challenge for a medal.

Vietnam’s Tuyet Loan Chau Hoang and Jordan’s Fatama Abdelghafer Ahmed Allawi also compete.

Men’s 60kg

Nader Moradi will be expected to take gold in the final event of the day. The Iranian athlete is the only competitor in the category to have lifted over 200kg in qualification.

He only made his powerlifting debut for Iran in 2010 and has progressed rapidly ever since, saying that it is his ambition to win the gold medal in London.

Three athletes are expected to challenge for silver and bronze. Russia’s Ayrat Zakiev, China’s Yang Quanxi and Turkey’s Izzettin Kanat all qualified within 5kg of each other.

Should any of those three slip up, Nigeria’s Ifeanyi Nnajiofor, Thailand’s Thongsa Marasri and Poland’s Mariusz Tomczyk could mount a challenge for a medal.

In a similar manner to Natalie Blake in the women’s 52kg category, Great Britain’s Jason Irving can expect to receive rapturous applause from the home crowds as he aims to finish on the podium.

"I'm looking at a medal, otherwise I wouldn't be here," said Irving. "I didn't want to come just for the tracksuit.

“In Beijing, I was in the running for a medal but lost out on a technicality - a disqualification - so maybe this time I can be the dark horse. It is all about who has got it all together on the day."

Irving is the final powerlifter to compete for Great Britain at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Syria’s Shadi Issa, Georgia’s Shota Omarashvili and Kazakhstan’s Aibek Abzhan complete the line-up in the men’s 60kg category.

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