“There’s nobody who I’d particularly like to beat, rather I want to overcome my limits and to increase my performance.”
The stage is set for the opening competitions of the 2017 World Para Powerlifting season, as the first World Cup gets underway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday (27 February).
All the action from the Dubai Sports Club for the Disabled will be shown live at www.worldparapowerlifting.org from 10am (GST) (7am CET).
A number of Rio 2016 Paralympic Games medallists will line up to test their form, at the start of a year that features the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City.
Hungary’s Nandor Tunkel claimed a bronze medal at the Paralympics on his Games debut in the men’s up to 49kg.
In Dubai he is hoping to better his 155kg performance, but will face Jordan’s Omar Qarada. The pair have a long history behind them; Qarada claimed silver in Rio but Tunkel insisted he is focusing on himself.
“There’s nobody who I’d particularly like to beat, rather I want to overcome my limits and to increase my performance,” Tunkel said. “In case I have to fight with anyone in order to obtain a better result in the competition, I always want to beat my rivals who are in front of me.”
Qarada’s teammate Mutaz Al Juneidi will begin his campaign to retain his world title in the men’s up to 88kg. The former world record holder missed the podium in Rio with a 190kg lift, way below his 229kg career best from 2014.
Iraq’s Paralympic silver medallist Rasool Mohsin headlines the men’s up to 72kg as the world record holder.
At Rio 2016 he stunned the field with a 227kg fourth lift after he had lost out on gold to China’s Lei Liu.
Whilst Liu will not compete in Dubai, Mohsin is taking every opportunity to compete as he builds towards facing his rival again at September’s World Championships.
In the women’s competitions, the Netherlands’ Melaica Tuinfort returns to the bench as the women’s over 86kg Paralympic bronze medallist.
Tuinfort is another powerlifter using the World Cup as an opportunity to assess where they are in an important year.
“I want to see where I am right now, because I’m really focusing on the World Championships in Mexico,” Tuinfort said. “In Dubai, it’s just to see where I am at now, and to see how athletes are doing also. I hope I will get a medal. I don’t know but I will try my best.”
The women’s up to 45kg world champion, Ukraine’s Rayisa Toporkova, will compete in the up to 50kg in Dubai.
The change is likely to give Poland’s Justyna Kozdryk, the women’s up to 45kg European and Worlds silver medallist, a boost for the World Cup opener.
Competition opens on Monday with the men’s up to 49kg and up to 54kg, and the women’s up to 41kg, up to 45kg and up to 50kg.
Updates and pictures will be posted to Facebook.com/parapowerlifting, Twitter (@powerlifting) and Instagram (@parapowerlifting).