Ahmed Shafik is a decorated Para Powerlifter and member of Team USA. As a two-time Paralympian, he competed in the 2012 London Paralympic Games in the 82.5-kilogram weight class and the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in the 80-kilogram class to a seventh-place finish. In that same weight class, he holds a bronze medal from the 2016 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Powerlifting World Cup and a silver medal at the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Americas Open Championships.
Additionally, Shafik has runner-up finishes at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games in the 97-kilogram class, the 2018 National Para Powerlifting Competition, and the 2014 USA ParaPowerlifting Competition in the 88-kilogram class. In 2013, he scored his first gold medal finishes at the University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games and the IPC National Powerlifting Bart and Nadia Sports Festival. According to Disabled Powerlifting, he currently holds the American record in the 80-kilogram weight class with a 165-kilogram (363.8-pound) bench press.
We had the opportunity to interview Shafik about his injury, his journey into the sport of Para Powerlifting, his training, his diet, and his plans for the future.
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The Injury and The Dream
Shafik was born in Iraq in 1973. When he was three years old, an ear infection and high fever left him with a temporarily weakened immune system. His doctor failed to acquire a temperature reading or do the proper check-ups to ensure he was healthy enough to receive a polio vaccine.
He basically gave me the disease.
The result was an ensuing sickness the permanently affected his left leg — the muscles atrophied until his “left leg looked like [only bones].” This injury would later stymie his dream of becoming a championship weightlifter like his father, who was a member of the Iraqi National Team during the 1960s and 70s. “I was always [looking at] his pictures and how strong he was. In the late 80s, I started to get involved with lifting weights.”
Fortunately, Ahmed would find a way to compete on the world stage.
Introduction To Para Powerlifting
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At least when I don’t medal in the US, they won’t send me to jail.
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Looking to the Future
Shafik has his sights set on making his third appearance at the Paralympic Games in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. As he has moved up in weight class, his strength has followed suit. If he can maintain the momentum of his biggest career finish to date — his runner-up ranking at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games — then it is very possible that he achieves his life-long dream of matching his father and standing on the podium on the world’s biggest stage.
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Feature image via World Para Powerlifting.