Iran’s Siamand Rahman wrote his name into the history books after doing what no man had ever done before – he cleared the bar at 310kg in the men’s over 107kg, setting a new world record and claiming his second consecutive Paralympic gold.
The world’s strongest Paralympian, who had lifted 296kg at a World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, last February, was widely expected to break the 300kg barrier after years systematically improving his marks.
Rahman won gold at London 2012 with a 280kg lift. Two years later, he registered 285kg at the World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and 290kg at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, Korea.
In Rio, the 28-year-old proved again that nothing can stop him in front of a noisy crowd that had gathered to witness the historic moment and never stopped chanting “Iran, Iran”.
“I feel very happy and proud for having broken the 300kg barrier and for being the strongest Paralympian in the world,”said Rahman afterwards. “I want to be an inspiration for all people with impairment who stay at home and don’t lead an active life, and especially for the youth."
Egypt’s Amr Mosaad claimed silver thanks to his 235kg lift in the last round, whilst Jordania’s Jamil Elshebli (234kg) sealed bronze.
“Winning silver is like winning gold to me. It is just impossible to defeat Rahman,” said Mosaad.
The other stand-out story of the day at the Riocentro – Pavilion 2 was the success of Josephine Orji. The Nigerian cleared 160kg, adding 7kg to her previous own world record to top the podium in the women’s over 86kg.
The world champion ended far ahead of Poland’s Marzena Zieba (134kg), who collected silver, and the Netherlands’ Melaica Tuinfort (130kg), who sealed bronze.
“It is very special for me to win gold at my first Paralympic Games,” said Orji.
With six golds, two silvers and one bronze, Nigeria topped the final Rio 2016 powerlifting medal tally.
“We eat a lot of good food and that is why we are so strong,” Orji added.
World champion Pavlos Mamalos confirmed he is the strongest in the men’s up to 107kg, breaking the Paralympic record with a 238kg lift on his way to gold, Greece’s second powerlifting medal at Rio 2016 after Dimitrios Bakochristos sealed bronze in the men’s up to 54kg.
Mamalos finished ahead of Egypt’s Mohamed Ahmed (233kg) and Iran’s Ali Sadeghzadehsalmani (226kg), who claimed silver and bronze, respectively. The Greek later tried to break Azerbaijan’s Elshan Huseynov’s world record of 243kg but failed.
“Winning a gold medal is only possible if you are strong, brave and never give up. I am extremely happy,” said Mamalos.
“I have been working very hard to reach my best possible shape ahead of this Paralympic Games, training every day except Sundays in the morning and the afternoon.
“I never think of winning a medal before competing but of giving my best and being as focused on my lifts as possible.
“Next year we have the World Championships in Mexico, where I will try again to break the world record. And then I will start training for Tokyo 2020.”