The journey to competing at a Commonwealth Games isn’t easy at the best of times, but for Ali Jawad, his journey seemed almost impossible.
Having suffered a flare in his Crohn’s disease following the 2016 Rio Paralympics, the para-powerlifter was only able to begin training for the 2018 Commonwealth Games 10 weeks prior to the competition’s start.
But not only did Jawad perform a minor miracle to get his body in a position to be able to compete in Australia, the 29-year-eclipsed all expectations to came away a bronze medal.
“I didn’t give myself a hope of getting on the podium,” Jawad confessed. “I felt like I was only there to make up the numbers rather than fight for medals, it couldn’t have gone any better on that day.”
“It was probably my best career performance, or certainly one of them.”
Jawad was a part of the Team England weightlifting and para-powerlifting group that impressed and left their mark on the medal table, and the lightweight lifter believes he drew inspiration from his teammates’ successes.
“Watching the weightlifters before us winning medals and performing very well, yes it put a little bit of pressure on us to perform but it was pressure that I love,” Jawad explained. “It made me feel like I can perform at that sort of level no matter what I went through.”
Following on from his Gold Coast triumph, Jawad clinched gold at the European para-powerlifting Championships, and has now set his sights on even more silverware.
“I’ll make my debut internationally in the able-bodied (category),” the powerlifter hinted. “Hopefully if I’m picked I’ll go to the IPF Europeans in France to take on the best able-bodied benchers in the world.” He continued: “I don’t think anybody’s ever won an able-bodied and Paralympic gold medal in the same year before, so that’s the one I’m aiming for.”
The able-bodied competitions pose a steeper challenge for Jawad but they are ones that he is read to welcome with open arms. Due to his disability, the lifter would be required to wear prosthetic legs, and participants are penalised for raising their legs while benching, something Jawad believes may be a difficult adjustment.
“There’s a lot of different challenges with the able-bodied events, but I look forward to trying to get over them,” he concluded.