While the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Americas Open Championships may not get underway in Mexico City until April 26-29, Spanish powerlifter Loida Zabala Ollero announced on Facebook today that she is preparing to leave for Mexico on January 14 to give herself a head start in her personal 2016 Summer Paralympic qualify campaign preparations. While there, she will train with four time Mexican Paralympian and friend Amalia Pérez.
The extra time in Mexico will give Zabala time to adjust to Mexico City’s 2,240 metre (7,350 ft) altitude, an opportunity to regularly train on different type of equipment, and get training advice from a proven winner in the sport of Paralympic powerlifting. Her trip to Mexico is supported by, amongst others, the Comité Paralímpico Español.
Zabala is currently ranked fifth in the world in the women’s up to 50 kg class. In first is Nigerian Esther Oyema, with Russian Olesya Lafina ranked second, Ukranian Lidiia Soloviova ranked third and Egyptian Gihan Abdelaziz ranked fourth. To qualify for Rio, she needs to meet the Paralympic Games Minimum Qualifying Standard (MQS) for IPC Powerlifting of 62.0 kg which she has set, have competed in the 2014 World Championship which she did and finished fourth, and participate in in at least one Regional/International approved event in 2015, which she will do by competing in Mexico.
At the age of 11, Zabala was diagnoses with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spine. She competed at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Paralympics. While weighing only 48 kilos, she has been able to produce lifts of more than 100 kilos, and is coached by Lodario Ramón. Competing in Spain can be challenging at time, because there are no women in her weight class who can come near her in how much they can lift. Often, she is the only ranked female powerlifter in the whole country.