Team England star Ali Jawad explains how Earlham Primary school helped turn him into the man he is

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Ali Jawad poses during a Team England media opportunity ahead of th

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Ali Jawad poses during a Team England media opportunity ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, at Studio 99 Fitness centre on March 29, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Commonwealth Games England) - Credit: Getty Images

Londoner and two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ali Jawad has revealed how his formative school years in north London helped him develop both his education and physical talent to reach the highest levels of powerlifting.

“When I was a child I attended Earlham Primary School in north London,” said Jawad. “This was the start of my love of sport. Despite my disability, I was lucky enough to have teachers and other pupils that encouraged me to play sport quite regularly, and I thought it was important for me to try lots of different things to see what I was good at.

“For me my love was football. Having no legs meant I handballed it quite a lot, so I tended to play as a goalkeeper, but I was very lucky to have a support team that made me want to have aspirations to play sport competitively.”

In his secondary school years at Woodside High School – formerly White Hart Lane High School – Jawad really developed in the sports he could take part in competitively.

“My first love of competitive sport was judo when I was 11, I did judo for about four years. Unfortunately, when I was 15, I found out I couldn’t attend the Paralympic Games in Beijing because of my classification. In judo you’re only eligible if you’re blind or visually impaired, so as an amputee there was no classification for me to compete in,” he added.

“After this setback I decided to take a year out of sport and focus on my GCSEs, and it was during this time I discovered powerlifting. After one of my exams, a friend pushed me into going to the gym with him, and it was there I was spotted by the gym owner, who said I had potential as a powerlifter.”

Within two years of starting his journey as a powerlifter, Jawad was at the Paralympic Games in Beijing aged 19 – an incredible achievement in such a short space of time.

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“I was lucky enough to have teachers, friends and family all being very supportive of me, helping me balance schoolwork and being an elite athlete. Obviously when you’re younger it’s a bit harder to find that balance, but I had a good support network around me to make sure I achieved all my goals,” he said.

“School was invaluable to me growing up. Not only did I learn how to organise and balance my life when it came to my schoolwork and my competitive sporting career, but it also helped me learn how to build relationships with so many people, in and out of school.”

If selected, Jawad will compete for Team England at his fourth Commonwealth Games at Birmingham 2022.