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Ali Jawad returns to UEL to pursue his Paralympic dreams 

Rio 2016 silver medallist has reunited with UEL coaching staff to rekindle powerlifting career

By Robson Friend

Paralympic powerlifting silver medallist Ali Jawad has returned to the University of East London (UEL) to try to regain his fitness after being struck down by illness for the last 18 months.

The 29-year-old strongman was one of the stars of the Rio Paralympics in 2016 when he took silver in the -59kg class.

But a long-standing battle with Crohn’s Disease has left him in a race against time to be fit for the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April, where he is due to compete for England. 

“It gets harder coming back from the flare-ups,” said Ali. “This has been the longest flare of my career. Eighteen months is a very long time.

“I don’t how competitive I will be but all I can do is put everything in place within my power to minimise the risk of another set-back. If that’s not enough, then I’m just unlucky.” 

Ali, a former world champion and world record-holder, studied Sport and Exercise Science at UEL before switching to Loughborough University in the run-up to Rio 2016.

But he has returned to UEL to be reunited with the University’s head of strength and conditioning, Duncan Ogilvie, who also trains heavyweight boxer Lawrence Okolie – another former UEL student – along with numerous other UEL sports scholars.  

He is hoping Duncan’s expertise can help him achieve his long-term goal of triumphing at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

Ali said, "My relationship with UEL started in 2010 when I was making a comeback from Crohn's Disease. UEL provided me with a place to train and gave me access to incredible coaches like Duncan and amazing facilities. 

“This was the foundation of my comeback and recovery to finally win a Paralympic medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. UEL and Duncan continue to act as a support network to help me achieve my dream of winning gold at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games."

He added, “UEL have given me everything that I needed from the off. Not many universities would’ve allowed you to train in such an incredible centre with an incredible staff, but they’ve been very supportive in my journey.”