Balal scoops silver in world weightlifting competition in South Africa

June 2016

Weightlifting wizard Balal Ahmed is celebrating after winning a silver medal in one of the world’s top tournaments.

Despite taking part in his first international competition, the Sport and Fitness Studies student overcame his nerves to post a superb performance at the World Classic Bench Press Championships in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Balal lifted 140kg in the under 105kg weight category and was pipped into second place by a South African competitor.

The 22-year-old student, who has only been involved in the sport for just over a year, was thrilled to represent his country. He said: “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, being chosen to showcase what you love on a world stage in front of so many passionate supporters.

“The highlight of the competition was when I stood on the podium with the Union Jack flag and the national anthem was played. The memory will stays with me throughout my journey in the sport and for the rest of life.”

Balal praised the Great Britain team coaches for their support. “I also got to speak to other competitors, coaches from other countries and made many new friends in the process,” he said.

“My ambitions are to improve my powerlifting total in the squat, bench press and deadlift every year – and learn as much as I can in the sport.”

Balal said he would love to represent Britain at a future world championships and encouraged people to take part in weightlifting, whatever their gender, age or mobility.

He said: “I would recommend the sport to anyone. It is for men or women, old or young. At the world championships, I was fortunate to see an 80-year-old American competitor who told me, ‘The sport keeps me feeling at least 10 years younger.“

I also saw a wheelchair user who was competing. It shows you that if you are passionate about something you can take part, regardless of your current situation.

“The main benefits of the sport are improved strength, improved bone density and improved mobility. Weightlifting is good for goal-setting, which can keep you motivated and improve your confidence.“

The challenge in the sport is being patient with results as some of the best lifters have been competing for over a decade. You also need to be smart with your training to avoid injuries.”

Balal returns to UCB in September to start the second year of his degree. “I would definitely recommend UCB to students who are passionate about sports because the staff here are very supportive,” he added.

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