A host of international stars are hoping to stamp their authority in the opening Para Powerlifting World Cup of 2023.
One hundred and eight athletes from across 24 nations will descend on Tbilisi this weekend for three days of action (29 April to 1 May). And with memories still fresh of the Georgian capital hosting the 2021 World Championships as well as a 2022 European Open, it is set to be a perfect place to begin.
The big nations
One of the strongest contingents set to take part in Tbilisi is that from Ukraine. Boasting recognisable talent across both the male and female side, the Ukraine team have eyes firmly set on leaving with medals. And for much of their team, medals are a familiar feeling.
Nataliia Oliinyk, a World Championships bronze medallist in the city previously, is part of the 11-person squad taking part in this year’s World Cup. The only two nations with more athletes partaking are the hosts themselves and European Para powerlifting giants, Kazakhstan.
Mongolia’s team consists of just one man. But when that man is Enkhbayaryn Sodnompiljee, do you really need anybody else? Sodnompiljee won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games for the 107kg. Soon after, he was pipped to the top spot in the Worlds in Tbilisi. This could be his chance at redemption.
Back to Tbilsi!
It is becoming quite the home of Para Powerlifting! Tbilisi has hosted three major events since May 2021, with a World Cup, World Championships and European Open Championships all held in recent years. So for many of the athletes, it will be a return to a familiar setting.
Let’s start with the hosts. Akaki Jintcharadze made history at the Europeans last year when he became the first Georgian to experience gold medal success on a continent-level. He found glory in the men’s over 107kg, successfully lifting an impressive 228kg to write his name into the history books.
And this time, backed by 13 other countrymen, Georgia will truly fancy their chances of causing some upsets.
Matthew Harding of Great Britain will also have fond memories of his time here last year. Harding became European champion in 2022 for the men’s up to 72kg category, in a performance he dedicated to his late father.
“I lost my dad to cancer and I always wanted to show what I’m capable of to him,” Harding said. “To win the Europeans, to hold on to that, thinking of his smile, that’s who I’m doing it for. My family back home, they’ve always been supportive and it’s been such a difficult year, and to actually have some positivity in this year, finally, I’m quite relieved.”
Another to watch out for in the Great Britain team is Olivia Broome. Twice a medallist at the World Championships in 2021 (one in junior, one senior), she returns to the city stronger, more experienced and hungrier for success.
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Tbilisi is the first stop, but there are plenty more locations to come across the world this year, including regional Games in Asia and the Americas in Hangzhou, China and Santiago, Chile, respectively.
But none of those shine brighter than the matter of a World Championships to come in Dubai, UAE from 22-30 August.
Source : Paralympic