Batonbearers at the ready
With just under 100 days to go until the XX Commonwealth Games begins in Glasgow, Leeds have announced their six Batonbearers selected to carry the Queen’s Baton when it arrives in the city.
Amongst them is 25-year-old powerlifter, Ali Jawad, who will act as one of the city’s representatives when the Queen’s Baton Relay tours Leeds on the 12th June, before the games kick off in July.
Ali, who suffers from the incurable Crohns disease, has most recently clinched a World Championship title in Dubai earlier this month and competed as part of Team GB’s Paralympic team.
As a Batonbearer, the Bramley resident, originally from Lebanon, will take the baton to local landmarks and special events to celebrate the countdown to Glasgow 2014.
He said it was an ‘extremely proud’ moment when he got told he had been selected and now hopes to go on and win Gold at the Commonwealth games himself.
“I got told that I had been selected to be a Batonbearer around the time of the World Championships earlier this month (6th April),” he said.
“It is a real honour for me because I hope to be representing England at the Commonwealth Games later this year.
“My final qualifier is next month in Coventry and if successful I will then go on to represent the country which will be fantastic.
“Being one of the city’s Batonbearers is something which makes me very proud.”
It isn’t the first time that Ali has been selected as a representative of major athletic games having been a torch bearer in London for the Beijing Olympics.
On that occasion, the powerlifter says the media coverage was ‘intense’ yet insists that this year’s Leeds appearance has a special sentimental meaning attached to it.
He added: “The one in Downing Street was massive due to the media attention and I had just qualified for my first Paralympics so everything was huge. It was probably the most important leg of the torch relay so that was a great experience.
“This Leeds baton is very special to me because it is the Leeds community which has been behind me from day one and helped me get to where I am today.
“They have been so supportive over the years and I have them to thank for much of my success.”
Ali has represented ParalympicsGB in powerlifting at Commonwealth, European, World and Paralympic Games, most notably the 2012 Paralympics.
The highlight of his career was gold at the Asian Open in 2013, with a new European and World record, becoming world ranked number one.
Throughout his life he has come through adversity and dreams of one day becoming the first Crohns sufferer to win Gold at any Olympics or Paralympics.