Team England’s powerlifting pro Ali Jawad joined us at our post-Rio celebratory event this week, sharing some great stories from Rio, his travels across America and some exclusive news about his next challenge...
Ever-humble and always one to bring laughter and personality to the room (if you haven’t checked out his Twitter feed, you should do now), Ali told us about how he got the star treatment on his post-Games road trip across America with friends.
“Paralympics is a big thing in America. I actually got treated very well, considering it was only a silver.” [cue laughter from the crowd] “I was like ‘wow’. I actually got into lots of events VIP style, so I did pretty well.”
Life’s been full on for Ali since winning his medal; after travelling America, the Heroes parade and enjoying a royal reception at Buckingham Palace this week; he’s barely had time to reflect on his incredible achievements, but is already looking ahead to his next challenge.
“I actually haven’t sat down and watched my event through. It’s been that hectic that I kind of enjoyed the moment, rather than reflecting on it.”
Next month Ali will put himself to the test - to compete able-bodied. A phone call on the way to Vegas asking if he would like to compete able-bodied led to the para-athlete returning home early to focus on training for the event next month.
“Two days ago, I put a pair of legs on for the first time. The rules for able-bodied powerlifting is that you have to have your feet on the floor at all times. Obviously, I don’t have any feet, so I got fitted to have legs, just to hold me down. That’s really all they’re there for, not to walk.
But it’s going to be weird buying trainers for them next month. I have to go trainer shopping!”
Ali competes able-bodied next month, which he hopes will earn him qualification for the British Championships in January. Winning this would see Ali competing at the Arnold Classic Powerlifting Championships in America, competing against the best able-bodied athletes in the world, before heading to the Gold Coast in 2018.
“I don’t think a Paralympian’s ever won an able-bodied world title before so that’d be very special if I could pull it off.”