Sherif Othman Othman of Egypt reacts during the men's 56kg final at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Powerlifting event in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2008. Othman broke the world record and claimed the title with 202.5kg.
It is a day to be remembered for the whole life for Sheirf Othman, who received a special gift for his 26th birthday -- a Paralympic gold medal plus a world record.
The Egyptian powerlifter will turn 26 next Monday. However, the celebration has already begun as he lifted 202.5kg to claim the gold in the men's 56kg category and a new world mark on Thursday.
"It is the first time I celebrate my birthday in a foreign country," said Othman. "The gold medal is the best birthday gift ever."
Gold medalist Sherif Othman Othman of Egypt, silver medalist Rasool Mohsin of Iraq and bronze medalist Jung Keum-Jong of South Korea pose for photo during the awarding ceremony of men's 56kg at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Powerlifting event in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2008.
Othman asked for 195kg in his first attempt, and lifted it easily to break the old world record of 194kg held by Chinese Wang Jian. He lifted 200kg in his second attempt and 202.5kg in third.
Rasool Mohsin of Iraq took the silver in 185kg, with Jung Keum-Jong of South Korea picking the bronze in 180kg. Wang Jian, winner of the event in 2004 Athens Paralympics, finished fifth.
"I had lifted a better weight," said Othman. "I will break my record one day in future."
"It is my first time to visit China," he added. "I am impressed by the city. People are all very nice to me. I will never forget the Beijing Paralympics"
Othman, who used to be a shot putter, started powerlifting only in 2005, when he was encouraged by his coach Said Abdelhafez, also a powerlifter and the first Egyptian medallist in the Paralympics.
"I just started this sport in 2005, and thanks to the fact that I got an excellent coach, Abdelhafez. With his help, I could make the achievement today. He told me that the best time for a powerlifter is from age 25 to 29, and I decide to make the best of the period," said Othman.
Othman used to have three training sessions a week, each lasting two hours. He later increased his workload.
He made his name in the 2006 world championships in South Korea as he lifted 175kg for a silver, only 5kg short of Wang Jian's 180.
Othman said Wang was one of his motivations. "I have known Wang since the world championships, and after that I think about what Wang will do and what I can do everyday," said Othman. "I trained six days a week, each session lasting three hours."
Silver medalist Rasool Mohsin of Iraq reacts during the awarding ceremony of men's 56kg at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Powerlifting event in Beijing, Sept. 11, 2008. Mohsin won the silver medal with 185.0kg.
His efforts paid off. He made great progress in the past two years and had been seen the biggest threat to Wang before the Paralympics.
Wang heaped praises on Othman after the contest.
"We competed together in the 2006 world championships but since then I haven't seen him. He lifted more than five or six kilograms above my old world record in every training session. I was stunned when I saw him training," said Wang.
"He is so outstanding. I think he is the best powerlifter of all categories."
The two herculeses are good friends. "I invited him to the celebration of my birthday," said Othman. "I like him very much that I wave to him every time we meet."
"We are good friends," Wang agreed. "He's so talented and has made great progress in only two years. I admire him."