Turkmenistan first participated in the paralympics in 2000 in powerlifting. In London, five Turkmen athletes are representing their country: 2 male power lifters, 2 female power lifters, and a male long jumper.
I was particularly surprised by the two women. This displays two of my internal prejudices that I should address. First, I just hadn’t thought of women participating. Second, I have a misconception that women in Central Asia don’t participate in sports.
In fact, Women made their Powerlifting debut at Sydney 2000 and the sport has continued to grow at a rapid rate ever since.
Valentina, from Turkmenistan, came in 7th in the women’s 67.5 kilo group. She benched 95 kilos! Jennet also came in 7th in the 75 kilo group. She benched 85 kilos. Considering that Jennet is 48 years old, I am very impressed!
And the classifications for powerlifting?
The classification rules of the International Federation for Powerlifting state that athletes with a physical impairment in their legs or hips, which would prohibit them compete in weightlifting are eligible to compete in the sport at the Paralympics.
Competitors are classified by bodyweight alone in Powerlifting: athletes with different impairments compete for the same medals.