Para powerlifting: Mbaziira targets Olympics slot in Cairo

Para-powerlifter Mbaziira has dreams of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics. PHOTO/ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI

What you need to know:

In Birmingham, Mbaziira’s best lift was 162kg after his first two attempts, both at 160kg, were null and void. He managed a total of 103.5 points.

Para-powerlifter Denis Mbaziira went to Cairo, Egypt, for the 2022 Para Powerlifting IPC African Championships with the cardinal goal of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

At the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, his first international tournament, Mbaziira finished sixth in the heavyweight category won by India’s Sudhir.

Since then, Mbaziira has been working hard to be in better shape for the Cairo event starting Thursday till Sunday well aware it could determine his future in the sport.

In Birmingham, Mbaziira’s best lift was 162kg after his first two attempts, both at 160kg, were null and void. He managed a total of 103.5 points.

Kenneth Sekilanda, who has been coaching Mbaziira since Birmingham, said he has improved his personal best to 175kg.

“Now it’s up to his minder in Cairo to ensure that he starts with 160kg, then 165kg, and finishes with 175kg,” said Sekilanda, head coach at ISK Gym in Ndeeba and also the founding president of the Uganda Powerlifting Federation.

If he manages 175kg, he will have lifted three kilograms better than Morocco’s Abderrahim El Ammari, who won silver at the 2018 edition in Algiers.

“I am sure if he sticks to our plan he will perform better. Because by the time he goes to the Paralympics we need him to be lifting 200kg.”

Muhamed Nigo was the first Ugandan to compete at the continental event. In 2018, the Lugazi-based lifter scooped bronze in the 72kg category with his best lift at 125kg but failure to compete at more events slimmed his chances of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Like Nigo, Mbaziira travelled alone. But he will pray for better fortunes in Cairo and in future endeavours until Paris 2024.

In Cairo Mbaziira could face familiar opponents like Nigeria’s Ikechukwu Obichukwu, who got silver in Birmingham with his best lift of 197kg; Gambia’s Modou Gamo; Cameroon’s Oscar Moussima and Nigeria’s Abdulazeez Ibrahim, who all finished behind Mbaziira.

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