Ali Jawad: My Paralympic silver medal feels like a gold

Haringey’s Ali Jawad says he feels like he won gold in Rio after finishing as the runner-up in his powerlifting event and winning an elusive Paralympic medal at the third attempt.

The 27-year-old, who attended Woodside High School and started powerlifting at Wood Green Weightlifting Club, suffered heartbreak at the 2008 and 2012 Games.

He was ill in Beijing, subsequently being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and was then denied a silver in London by a controversial technical decision which left him down in fourth place.

But Jawad finally earned his spot on the podium last Friday, finishing second in the 59kg category behind Egyptian Sherif Othman, who won the Paralympic title for the third time in a row.

“This medal has been four years in the making and after what happened in London, it feels like I’ve won gold!” said Jawad, who was born without legs in Lebanon before moving to St Ann’s Road in Tottenham.

“I knew coming into the Games that Sherif was going to need to slip up in order for me to beat him. He didn’t and he has re-emphasised that he is one of the greatest powerlifters ever, so coming second to him isn’t so bad.”

Jawad arrived in Brazil with a heavyweight CV, having previously won gold at the 2014 World Championships, bronze in the Commonwealth Games and gold at the 2015 European Championships.

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All that was missing was a Paralympic prize, and he achieved a Paralympic record of 190kg with his first lift.

That feat was promptly bettered by Othman, who raised 203kg, leaving Jawad in second place – and that was how it stayed.

Jawad tried and failed with two attempts at 194kg, while Othman beat his own world record of 210.5kg by raising 211kg.

British Weight Lifting Paralympic performance manager Tom Whittaker said: “It was a phenomenal performance from Ali – especially after what happened in London.

“How he’s dealt with the disappointment in London is truly commendable and he and everyone who supports him as part of the world-class programme should be very proud.”