Lubanza, Mwale storm world of Paralympic Powerlifters
Published On March 8, 2014 » 3655 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Columns, Sports
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Spectrum - newACHIEVING greatness is never easy, especially in the face of disability, and in order to become a superstar in disability sports, it takes a very special soul to harness the strength to climb to greater heights.
Africa has produced outstanding Paralympic athletes in the likes of blade sprinter and golden boy Oscar Pistorius, Powerlifters Yakubu Adesokan of Nigeria, Sherif Othman and Mohamed Eldib of Egypt among others.
These men have undoubtedly overcome the challenges that come with being what they are and by doing so, they have not only managed to survive, but they have also found mega success in Paralympic sports.
Their success is an amazing thing to behold because it takes a lot of strength and a complete no-fear attitude to go as far as these successful Paralympic athletes have gone.
In Zambia today, achieving excellence in Paralympic sports is not an easy undertaking owing to various reasons that range from inadequate support from the corporate world and indeed other stakeholders, to little or no recognition from the media and the powers that be.
However, two Zambians are set to take the world by surprise as they set their stakes higher at the forthcoming International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Powerlifting World Championships slated for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on April 5 to 11.
For many, Paralympic Powerlifting may be viewed as a minor sport that is just out on the scene, but to the contrary, the sport has existed for years around the globe.
Zambia has made little presence on the world scene in this sport.
Paralympic Powerlifting is an adaptation of the sport of Powerlifting for athletes with disabilities.
Participants are required to meet a minimum eligibility criteria based on their impairment. They are then grouped by bodyweight for competition, which means athletes with different impairments compete for the same medals.
There are 10 different weight categories for men and women Powerlifters lower the bench press bar to their chest, hold it motionless, and then press it upwards to arm’s length while keeping their elbows locked during completions.
Athletes are given three attempts, and the winner is the athlete who lifts the largest weight (measured in kilograms).
From just being a mere weight lifter in his neighborhood of Lusaka’s Matero Township, little did Richard Lubanza know that one day he would be flying Zambia’s flag high at the world Paralympic Powerlifting championships.
To qualify for the world championship, Richard outclassed his opponents during the selection trials held at the Olympic youth Development Center, a performance that caught the eye of national Paralympics Coach Wisdom Moonga who did not hesitate to draft him in the two-man team to compete at the world championship.
Richard and George Mwale were picked to represent Zambia at the Powerlifting world championship that is expected to attract around 300 athletes from 50 countries.
Both athletes walk with crutches and they have overcome their paralysis in their legs to keep Zambia’s Paralympics dream of winning medals alive.
Interestingly, for Richard and George, the Dubai championships will be their first ever competitive Powerlifting event.
Many athletes in every sport struggle in order to compete in high profiled championships but Richard, is  among a rare handful of athletes to transcend the world of Paralympic Powerlifting sport without difficulty.
One of the objectives of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) is to develop sport opportunities for all persons with a disability from the beginner to elite level, and Richard’s case is a practical example of its fulfillment.
Now, come next month, the duo will be competing against the world’s best Powerlifters Liu Lei of China, Jong-Chul Park of Korea and Hamzeh Mohammadi of Egypt.
Born on March 29 1989, Richard started Powerlifting at the age of 10 years in Matero.
“From my childhood I have always liked to do Powerlifting and during that time I was just doing it for fitness and fan. Today I am happy that my little efforts earned me a ticket to represent Zambia in the Dubai champions.
I am delighted that within a short period of time in my Powerlifting career, I made it to a big event and I am not scared of anyone because it is about making Zambia proud,” said Richard.

Lubanza (left), Mwale (right)

Lubanza (left), Mwale (right)

He joined Matero gym in 2010 after his friend Alex who is his mentor persuaded him to take his talent to a competitive level.
“I have set my eyes at making it in Dubai and my ultimate goal is to come back home with a medal,” he added.
Like Richard, George started Powerlifting in Bauleni Township in Lusaka for the purpose of keeping fit and healthy but what was just a mere hobby, earned him an opportunity to be a flag bearer at a prestigious world event.
Born on March 22 1985, George got into competitive Powerlifting five years ago and his only achievement in the sport came in 2012 when he came first in the tournament held by the NPC at OYDC.
His ultimate target as the Dubai championship draws closer is to come back home with a medal.
He said, “This is an opportunity that every athlete dreams of in their lives and I want to take it seriously.
“Knowing that I have not been at such a competition, I am training hard to make my mark and win for Zambia.
The stage is set for the two Paralympians to shine; we can only wish them the best as they go out to represent Zambia.
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