Yesterday, Spain’s Loida Zabala Ollero won gold at the 2015 IPC Powerlifting Open Americas Championships in Mexico City with a best lift of 95 kg in the women’s -50 kg. She only managed one mark in her three attempts, missing her first at 94 kg and her third at 100 kgs. She beat out Great Britain’s Natalie Blake by a single kilo. Blake had a successful first lift of 90, missed her second attempt at 94 kgs, before putting up 94 on her third attempt. Both easily beat out bronze medalist Maria Rizonaide from Brazil who had a best lift of 77 kgs. Venezuela’s Zuray Marcano finished fourth with a best lift of 65 kgs, and Mexico’s Ana L. Trujillo with a best of lift of 52 kgs. Haiti’s Nephtalie Jn Louis was unable to record a lift in her three attempts.
Zabala has been in Mexico City since January training for the competition with four time Mexican Paralympian and friend Amalia Pérez. The extended time in Mexico gave Zabala time to adjust to Mexico City’s 2,240 meter (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 was supported by, among others, the Comité Paralímpico Español.
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.
For many lifters, the competition is part of their 2016 Summer Paralympics qualifying campaign. Lifters need to have competed at last year’s world championships, meet the Paralympic Games Minimum Qualifying Standard (MQS) and and participate in at least one Regional/International approved event in 2015. This competition counts for the last criteria, and lifters can use the event to set an MQS. By competing in Mexico City, Zabala has finished all the criteria for qualifying for Rio.
Competition continues today in Mexico City and runs until Wednesday. Today, men’s 59 kg, 65 kg and 72kg are on the program, along with women’s 55kg and 61 kg.