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Tokyo Paralympics: Jordan wins first gold medal

Jordan's Omar Qarada triumphed in the 49-kilogram weightlifting competition, defeating his world-record-holding opponent to take home gold
Omar Qarada of Jordan celebrates winning with the gold medal, 26 August, 2021 (Reuters)

Omar Qarada has won Jordan’s first gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games after beating his Vietnamese opponent in the 49-kilogram weightlifting competition, on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old athlete lifted a staggering 173kg to finish ahead of world record holder and Rio 2016 champion, Le Van Cong, from Vietnam.

Despite lifting the same weight as Qarada, Van Cong took home a silver medal due to weighing just 100g heavier than his Jordanian counterpart. 

Azerbaijan’s Parvin Mammadov finished third in the event to secure a bronze medal for his delegation. 

Qarada’s dazzling achievement secures the country’s first gold medal of the 2020 Paralympic games and its second-ever Paralympic gold.

A decorated athlete, Qarada also represented Jordan in the 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, winning a silver medal in both.

Jordan's first Paralympic gold was taken home in the 2000 games hosted by Sydney, when Maha al-Barghouti defeated her opponents in table tennis. 

Jordan's win comes after swimmer Iyad Shalabi secured the first gold for a Palestinian citizen of Israel in the 100m backstroke on Wednesday. Shalabi is paralysed in all four limbs following an accident age 13, according to Israeli media.

Early talent

Weightlifting was not always Qarada’s passion. In fact, less than 20 years ago, the Paralympic champion had no intention of taking up any sport. 

However, in 2003, he was encouraged by his family to go to a local sports club for a change of scenery and to meet new people.

According to the official website of the International Paralympic Committee, when Qarada visited the sports club “the powerlifting coach took one look at him and knew he had potential”.

Jordan’s Paralympic journey will continue on Friday where Muhammad Tarbash will compete in the 65-kilogram weightlifting event.