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Gabriel Magu trains at Nyayo Stadium on June 7, 2024 Gym in preparations for World Para Powerlifting Olympic qualifiers in Georgia.

Kenya’s Para Powerlifters Aim for Paris Paralympics Qualification at World Cup in Tbilisi

The 2016 Rio Paralympian Gabriel Magu eads Kenya’s assault at the World Para Powerlifting World Cup starting June 20 for a week in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The World Cup is the last qualifying round for para powerlifters the 2024 Paris Paralympics scheduled from August 28 to September 8 in the French capital.

Magu, 37, leads a team of four power-lifters to Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, and a former Soviet republic.

The team also included the 20212 Tokyo Olympians Hellen Wawira, who is also a lightweight bronze medallist from the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Besides Wawira, who will compete in up to women’s 41kilograms, and Magu in men’s 72kgs, Jeremiah Maringa Ngungi and Joyce Njuguna, will be eying their first Paralympics from Tbilisi event.

Hellen Wawira 41kg trains
Joyce Njuguna 79kg trains

The Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) secretary general Stanley Mutuma disclosed that those winning medals at the championships will get direct tickets to the Paris Summer Games.

“A good performance will also see the powerlifters improve their world ranking that is also one of the modes used in qualifying,” said Mutuma, adding that a top eight world ranking after the championships will secure someone a place at the Paris Games.

Wawira, the 2022 Commonwealth Games lightweight bronze medallist, is hoping to qualify for her second Paralympic Games after competing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Wawira, 32, is the highest ranked Kenyan in ninth place in her category.

Wawira’s run at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics ended in fifth place in the 41kg after benching 93kgs. It’s Chinese who won gold in 108kg.

Magu, who is the Team captain, is eying his second Paralympics after his debut at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, having won silver at the American Para Powerlifting Championships 2018.

Magu, 37, has been to two World Cup events in 2016 in Malaysia and 2020 Nigeria and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

“I have been working hard all through this year, improving on my lifting techniques. Hope for the best,” said Magu, who has a personal best 150kg and is currently 23rd in the up to 72kgs.

Njuguna, 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, hit the peak of her career when she won two medals; gold and bronze from the World Championships in Dubai in 2023.

Njunguna is currently ranked 18th in 79kg and has silver from the World Cup in Nigeria in 2020.

Maringa, who won bronze at the World Championships Cup in Egypt in March this year, hopes to replicate the feat in Tbilisi and punch the ticket to Paris.

Maringa is ranked 21 and has a career best of 137kg in the 54kg category.

So far seven Kenyans have qualified for the 2024 Paris Paralympics. They include Kennedy Ogada in para-cycling, Asiya Sururu in para-rowing and Stacy Neema and Julieta Moipo in taekwondo.

The rest are from Athletics-Tokyo Paralympics 1,500m bronze medallist Nancy Chelangat (1,500 T11), Mary Waithera (1,500 T11) and Wesley Sang (1,500 T46) in athletics.

Mutuma said eight Kenyan athletes have been lined up for qualification through high performance ranking following their performance at the World Para-Athletics Championships held last month in Kobe, Japan.

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