9 April 2018

Powerlifting trio secure Commonwealth medals as table tennis gets underway

Ali Jawad completed a remarkable return to the sport of para-powerlifting after scooping Commonwealth Games bronze on the Gold Coast.

But if they were handing out medals for celebrations, then the 29-year-old deserved a gold for his cart wheeling, fist-pumping exploits alone.

He was not the only one celebrating as Zoe Newson joined him in securing bronze in the Carrara Indoor Sports Centre, while Louise Sugden lifted her way to heavyweight silver – less than a year since first taking up the sport.

Jawad – a bronze medallist in Glasgow four years ago and then a silver medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – was born with no legs and has also been battling Crohn’s Disease for most of his life.

A serious flare up of the illness left him contemplating retirement last year but, after a best lift of 161kg on Tuesday for a total of 182.7 points, Jawad is feeling better than ever.

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After the 18 months that I have had, this is probably my best career performance.

Ali Jawad

Jawad revels in Commonwealth 'miracle'

“After Rio I had a massive flare up, I tried to come back but I failed again – my career was pretty much over last year and I don’t really know how I have come back,” he said.

“I have only been back six or seven weeks so just to make it on the plane was a miracle – but to perform like that and get this medal is unbelievable.

“I had to think about those dark times and what got me through it – I was never supposed to make it and I think that is what drove me. I wanted to be here and I wanted to compete.

Meanwhile, Sugden completed a superb feat of her own, finding herself on the Commonwealth podium less than a year since switching her sporting focus.

Known for her skills with ball in hand as a basketball player, the 33-year-old represented ParalympicsGB at both the Beijing and London Paralympic Games but decided to pursue a new passion.

With a best lift of 103kg it’s a transition that certainly proved worthwhile – knowing the exact moment the decision became unforgettable.

Sugden: From basketball star to powerlifting medallist

“I decided I needed a different challenge, and turns out I’m quite naturally strong, so we’re just working to get me even stronger,” she said.

“Starting a new sport and winning the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games at 33 - if you told me a year ago that was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you at all.

“When the referee shouted, ‘good lift’ after the 103kg. I think that’s the moment there, right there, that I realised how memorable this is.”

And there was also success for Paralympic bronze medallist Newson, lifting 91kg to comfortably take herself into third place.

The 26-year-old completed the full set of medals in the process, with this adding to the Paralympic, world and European silverware she already possesses.

There was disappointment for Micky Yule however, finishing fourth for the second Games in succession having missed out on the podium in Glasgow.

Chiassaro led for large parts of the race

For the second successive day there was also action on the athletics track to contend with, though a stroke of bad luck prevented Richard Chiassaro from flying high.

Leading large parts of the T54 1500m, an untimely puncture saw his hopes of a medal fall away.

Samantha Kinghorn also came within striking distance of a medal in the same discipline, putting her sprint specialisms to good use in a new-found venture across 1500m.

Chiassaro said: “My tyre exploded after 300m – I couldn’t believe it. I tried to hold my pace, but over the last 300m I just couldn’t keep it going.

“The chair wasn’t holding the bend properly. It could have been anything that caused it, I just don’t know, it’s never happened to me before.”

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I’m a bit gutted as I know the sorts of times I can do, but it’s just one of those things.

Richard Chiassaro

Tuesday saw the para-table tennis action get underway with plenty of success for the home nations. Kim Daybell and Josh Stacey went head-to-head, with Daybell prevailing against his Welsh opponent 3-2, while Ross Wilson also beat Australian Barak Mizrachi 3-0.

That was the same scoreline that graced Felicity Pickard in the TT6-10 singles, overcoming Vero Nime of Papua New Guinea, with the home nations quartet all back in action on Wednesday.

And day seven will also see Joshua Bain get his chance in the spotlight, competing in the men’s F38 shot put final at 11:36.

There is also action to come on the track, with triple Paralympic medallist Maria Lyle in action for Scotland in the T35 100m alongside Maria Verdeille and Daphne Schrager.

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