Jawad ready for Rio: Paralympics set to takeover Brazil
For 16 days, athletes from around the world competed in hundreds of heats, contests and finals as they attempted to secure a prestigious Gold medal as the Olympics flourished in Rio.
Now, with the dust hardly set on the tracks, it is time for the ‘superhumans’ to take to the stage as the Paralympics take over Brazil.
One athlete hoping to secure his first Paralympic medal is Leeds’ own power lifter, Ali Jawad.
The 27-year-old, who was born without legs, has overcome a number of challenges in his life, from fleeing his native Lebanon as a child to being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2009.
Despite the obstacles, Jawad has continued to pursue and excel in the sport is passionate about and narrowly missed out on a medal in London, finishing in fourth spot.
This time around, Jawad has qualified for the 59kg class, and goes into this summer’s Games off the back of gold in the 2014 World Championships and 2015 European Championships.
Aiming to become the first person with Crohn’s to win a medal at either the Olympics or Paralympics, the Crohn’s and Colitis UK ambassador says he is determined to make 2016 his year.
“When I was diagnosed I thought it was the end of my dreams of Paralympic glory,” he said. “I was in constant pain, feeling weak, not a good idea for a powerlifter, and at times, quite depressed - particularly when I found that there is no known cure for Crohn’s Disease.
“A few months later, following surgery, I pulled myself together and went into intensive training for the London 2012 Paralympics. It was touch and go whether I would qualify, due to a flare-up, but I did. Narrowly missing out on a medal has only made me more determined to try and get to Rio and have another go.”
He added: “There’s times when I want to weep, and I’ve learned that when that happens, the best thing to do is laugh.”
“Through Crohn’s and Colitis UK, I’ve met so many people who live with IBD or know someone who does, and I’ve found that just talking about our experiences can help.
“Most of all, I want there to be a cure - and I’ll be helping Crohn’s and Colitis UK to raise awareness of the need for research funding - so that one day nobody will have to think about living with Crohn’s or Colitis in order to follow their dreams.”
Good luck to Ali Jawad and all our Team GB Paralympians flying out to Brazil!