Unity lends power to lifters

TEAMWORK is crucial to Australia’s powerlifters, and their newest recruit has hit a few bumps as he learns just how important it is.

The five people who make up the powerlifting team – three athletes, a coach and a manager – do everything together.

They train together, they support each other at their various events, and they will wait for everyone to finish competing before they sightsee together.

Coach Ray Epstein said he tried to encourage a close team. “It is something that I have tried to instil,” he said. “It is important that everyone pulls together, even though it is an individual sport.”

Lifter Deahnne McIntyre said she had competed in different sports, but powerlifting was “by far more of a team. This is the one that is more moulded together.”

It is an approach that Australia’s newest recruit, Abebe “Abba” Fekadu, who now lives in Brisbane, has to be reminded of now and then.

His fellow competitors, McIntyre, from Canberra, and Darren “the bear” Gardiner, from Perth, tease him about occasionally forgetting to follow the rules.

“Such as waiting for everyone,” McIntyre joked.

Fekadu became eligible to compete for Australia in 2007, a decade after he fled to Australia from his native Ethiopia.

The 38-year-old was injured in a car accident as he fled police who were closing in on a meeting of dissidents. He was then 26.

Despite nursing a broken back, he had to hide from authorities. Eventually he was smuggled to Italy, and then emigrated to Australia.

Fekadu, who wears a tiny golden barbell on a chain around his neck, has been powerlifting – more commonly known as bench pressing - for many years, but this is his first Paralympics.

He is awed by the atmosphere in Beijing. “The venues are amazing,” he said. “It’s a good experience, and it’s good to meet the Australian team too.”



by APC Beijing Media Team

Posted 06/09/2008 01:20 PM


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