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Tokyo Paralympics: Kenya’s debutant Wawira finishes fifth in Powerlifting

Kenyan powerlifter Hellen Wawira

Kenyan powerlifter Hellen Wawira Kariuki in action during the powerlifting competition of the Tokyo Paralympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum on August 26, 2021. With her is loader David Waore. Photo credit: Pool | Team Kenya

What you need to know:

  • Weighing in at 40.37 kilogrammes and competing in the below 41 kilogrammes category, Wawira asked for 90kgs for the start and made a successful lift
  • She then raised the bar, adding three more kilogrammes for her second lift and, again succeeded, rising to fourth overall, a touching distance from the medals podium
  • Then Venezuela’s Clara Sarahy Fuentes Monasterio conjured up 97kgs to move up to silver medal place, pushing Wawira down to fifth on the log

In Tokyo

Kenya’s Hellen Wawira finished a respectable fifth in her Paralympic Games powerlifting debut at the Tokyo International Forum on Thursday morning as China’s Lingling Guo snatched gold with a new world record lift of 108 kilogrammes.

Powerlifting very much depends on how one starts the day, physically and mentally, and it wasn’t too good a start for the 29-year-old Kenyan who was a bit under the weather going into the opening round.

Weighing in at 40.37 kilogrammes and competing in the below 41 kilogrammes category, Wawira asked for 90kgs for the start and made a successful lift.

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She then raised the bar, adding three more kilogrammes for her second lift and, again succeeded, rising to fourth overall, a touching distance from the medals podium.

Then Venezuela’s Clara Sarahy Fuentes Monasterio conjured up 97kgs to move up to silver medal place, pushing Wawira down to fifth on the log.

This meant that Wawira had to target an ambitious 97kgs and above to get into the medals reckoning, but she opted to listen to her body and go for a safe 95kgs.

Kenyan powerlifter Hellen Wawira
Kenyan powerlifter Hellen Wawira Kariuki in action during the powerlifting competition of the Tokyo Paralympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum on August 26, 2021. With her is loader David Waore. Photo credit: Pool | Team Kenya

However, the red “no lift” lights on the board meant that she had to settle for fifth which was an outstanding achievement given the pedigree of her opponents coupled with the fact it was the first time she was competing at this highest level.

“I’d like to first of all that God for coming this far. Getting a good lift at this level is something you can’t take for granted,” she said after the competition that started at 1pm, local time (7am Kenyan time.
“You have seen for yourselves that there are some competitors who went for big weight targets but still recorded ‘no lifts.’ I’m grateful first for that ‘good lift.’ That’s what matters.”

Her long-time coach Lena Nyaboke Marita described the performance as “her best ever lift.

“Lifting a ‘good lift’ is no joke!” said Nyaboke who doubles up as the treasurer of the Kenya National Paralympic Committee.

Final classification in the Tokyo Paralympic Games’ Women’s -41kgs Powerlifting competition at the Tokyo International Forum:

1. Lingling Guo (China) Best lift: 108kgs (gold)

2. Ni Negah Widiasih (Indonesia) 98kg (silver)

3. Clara Sarahy Fuentes Monasterio (Venezuela) 97kgs (bronze)

4. Zoe Newson (Great Britain) 94kgs

5. Hellen Wawira Kariuki (Kenya) 93kgs

6. Cristina Poblador Granados (Colombia) 92kgs

7. Lara Aparecida de Lima (Brazil) 88kgs

8. Moura Baddour (Syria) 82kg

9. Maryna Kopiika (Ukraine) (no lift, three attempts)

10. Leidy Rodriguez Rodriguez (Cuba) (no lift, three attempts)

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