Dubai, Aug 21 (IANS) Focus will be on top stars Parmjeet Kumar and Shakina Khatun when a 20-member Indian team launches its campaign in the 2023 World Para Powerlifting Championships starting here on Tuesday.
Having prepared well for the mega event, the Indians are ready to produce a powerful performance.
Parmjeet, the 31-year-old, is the first-ever Indian to win a World Championships medal in the sport when he claimed a bronze at Tbilisi in 2021. With more experience in the last two years, he would be aiming to improve the colour of his medal in men’s up to 49 kg.
Shakina Khatun, the CWG and Asian Para Games medallist in the women’s up to 50 kg, aims for a good performance to get ready for the Asian Para Games in October and qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
The duo will be joined by seasoned stars Farman Basha (men’s up to 54 kg), Manpreet Kaur (women’s up to 41 kg) and a few young names making it a balanced team competing in Dubai.
On the eve of the event on Monday, Parmjeet was confident of upgrading the colour of his medal this time in Dubai, which he believes will also give him momentum.
“I want to change the colour of the medal in Dubai,” stated the country’s top powerlifter training at the Sports Authority of India, Gandhinagar for several years now.
“Dubai has always been nice to me. Last year at the Fazza 2022 World Cup, I claimed silver and I am looking forward to another exciting championship this year,” Parmjeet was quoted as saying by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) in a release on Monday.
The seasoned powerlifter will be up against the likes of Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold and silver medallist Omar Qarada and Le van Cong in the men’s up to 49 kg category.
“I am ready to fight for the gold medal,” he added.
For Manpreet, her sole focus is on the Paralympics. “I am aiming to get a good result and improve my world rankings in the build-up to the Paris 2024 Paralympics.”
India’s Powerlifting head coach J.P. Singh was hopeful of a good show from the lifters picking out the debutants including Honey Dabbas and Rahul Jograjiya competing in the youth category.
“Dubai has been one of the best destinations for our athletes and they love competing here. We are expecting a couple of medals at this edition of Worlds,” said Singh.
“The preparations have been good. The team have been at a 20-day training camp in New Delhi post their training, and the athletes seem to be in good shape. We hope to win a couple of medals, including a first in the Junior category with promising players eager to make a mark in their debut World Championships,” said the coach.
China, Nigeria, Iran, and Jordan in focus
Among others, athletes from China, Nigeria, Iran and Jordan are expected to dominate in their various categories with Paralympic and World champions in action in the Elite category that begins on Wednesday (23 August).
This is the third time Dubai is hosting the World Championships, after 1998 and 2014, and this time it has welcomed 555 athletes from 80 nations with six new nations including Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal making it for the first time.
A colourful opening ceremony, highlighted by UAE’s journey in the world of Para-sports, opened the championships on Monday evening. The Junior World Championships will be held on Tuesday.