KAMPALA. When para-lifter Muhammed Nigo made the decision to travel from Lugazi, about 50 kilometres to Kisaasi, in suburban Kampala, he didnt want mere participation in Roy Mubiru’s Powerlifting and Crossfit Championship. He wanted to make a louder statement of “ability within disability.” And he made it by lifting a total of 390 kilograms in his three (perfect) attempts. On the bench press, the only lift for athletes with disabilities, Nigo begun with 125kg. “Good lift,” screamed the umpires, led by American Terry Harcleroad.
This is the lift that won him bronze in the continental championship in Algeria last August. Then he went for 130kg. Another perfect lift on the bench.
Another sign of improvement because when he attempted 130kg in Algeria, his hands wobbled a little and the judges said: “No lift.”
For the third, he went for 135kg, and the judges in Kisaasi said: “Perfect Nigo,” as he beat his personal best, in his first competition since the “Algiers miracle” that also gave him a ticket to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“I’m delighted, I feel a lot of energy,” he told Daily Monitor.
“If anyone dared me I could have gone for 145kg because I’m targeting gold at Paralympics.”
But who could dare Africa’s number three in the 72kg category, whose bench press performance could also compete among the 40 nondisabled lifters? Babu Baabumba, a more experienced para-lifter than Nigo, only managed 121kg in his third attempt. His second was 120kg after failing the same in his first lift.
Denis Mbaziira lifted: 100, 110 and 120; Amir Kapere: 40, 45 and 50. Nigo’s protege Said Ssenkubuge lifted: 60, 70 and failed at 85. His college Sadat Ssabakaaki lifted: 65, 75 and failed at 85. Ruth Nabakyo, the only female participant with disability, lifted: 40, 50 and failed at 70.
US-based Roy Mubiru, the organiser, who recently became the first Ugandan powerlifter to qualify for the World Powerlifting Championships next May in Ukraine, was impressed by the lifters with disability.