ParalympicsGB has today named the four powerlifting athletes set to represent Britain at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Beijing.
The four-strong team to represent Britain is Natalie Blake in the women’s -48kg class, Anthony Peddle in the men’s -48kg, Jason Irving in the men’s -56kg class and youngster Ali Jawad in the -75kg class.
This will be the sixth Paralympic Games for 37-year-old Anthony Peddle, who made his Paralympic debut in Seoul in 1988. The Northampton athlete won gold with a world record lift in Sydney in 2000 but was unable to successfully defend his title in Athens in 2004 due to a reoccurring shoulder injury. Now back to full fitness he is steadily climbing his way back up the rankings.
For Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jason Irving, this will be his second Paralympics. The 34-year-old, who is originally from Manchester but now lives in the USA, finished 5th in the Athens 2004 Games to just miss the medal podium.
Twenty-five year-old Natalie Blake will travel to Beijing for her third consecutive Paralympic Games. The Newark-based athlete was the youngest member of the British powerlifting team at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games when she was just 17. In Athens in 2004 Natalie finished just outside of the medal rostrum in 4th place.
London youngster Ali Jawad takes Britain’s final place for the Beijing Games, competing in the men’s -75kg class. The 19-year-old student, who makes his Games debut this summer, is current European junior champion in this category.
Ali Jawad said: “It’s a great honour to be selected for my first Paralympic Games. I’ve always wanted to represent my country at the Paralympics so this is a dream come true.”
British Powerlifting Head Coach, Jon Amos, said: “The standard of competition is consistently yet surely rising all the time within the world of powerlifting so these athletes in particular should be proud of themselves and of the opportunity they have justly earned to represent their country in Beijing.
“Taking the same mental attitude with them to Beijing as it has taken for them to qualify should see them all mixing it with the best.”
ParalympicsGB Chief Executive Phil Lane, said: “It is fantastic to see a mixture of youth and experience in the powerlifting team for Beijing, which shows that not only are new talented athletes emerging but also that the more experienced athletes are still at the top of their game.
“To be selected for a Paralympic Games is a great honour for these athletes and is the culmination of years of hard work. I wish them all the best over the next few months as they prepare for the Games.”
The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games opens on September 6 and closes on September 17. The powerlifting events at the Games take place at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics Gymnastics on September 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16.
At the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games Britain finished second in the medal table with a total of 35 golds, 30 silver and 29 bronze medals. With competitive standards continually rising and the dominant Chinese team taking the home advantage ParalympicsGB recognises that the 2008 Paralympics will be one of its biggest challenges yet.