Australian Malek Chamoun is the first blind lifter to compete at the world championships
Chamoun was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of seven and by 15 was declared legally blind. Today he must use a cane to get around. Fort the first time he started at the Worlds in Paris last night in 85 kg division.
‘It was good, I got the total but it was not my best day yesterday’ he said.’ Feeling a little bit tired because of the long flight trip. This is the biggest competition in my life ever. The atmosphere was nice; I heard there was a big crowd. I enjoyed very much to know I am together with the best of the world. The motivation to my last lift was enormous as I really wanted to have a total. I can praise the good atmosphere here, lot of people, lot of champions around me, even the ex-champions, coaching now. I met Pyrros Dimas, David Rigert. We took a photo with them. It is always good to be around these people.’
“My dad guides me right up to the edge of the platform,” Chamoun said.
‘He was disappointed as he can do more he had here yesterday’ his father George added. He had no energy for some reason. His personal best is 319 kg but last night we had only 305 on the scoreboard.’
Yet with George, a former Australian weightlifting representative, as his coach and with mother Rita supporting on the home front, Malek took up weightlifting at age 12.
“I learnt the lifts by feel. I use my other senses. Balance is an issue I seem to have worked out. I can see the weights, but not properly,” Chamoun said.
“If there are several red plates they blend into each other. I can see a blur of a bar.’
‘I hope I may become the first blind weightlifter to compete in the Olympics. However it is not an easy task as only one representative will go to London representing Australia. If I will improve ten kg on my total I think I will be the one to make it. I think 325-330 will make the Games. My dream is to be there with my whole family behind me. When I was a child I wanted to win Olympic gold, but as I grew up I understood what I could do and to be there is good enough for me now. My main goal is to win at Commonwealth Games and make Olympics.’
So on five days every week, morning and again in the afternoon, Chamoun lifts under the watch of his father. And they will continue to work together until the final moment before Malek competes.
‘People are over excited with his disability, many can not anticipate he lifts weights, his father explains. ‘I have to be with him full time get his food, take him to venues. Her mother did not come with us as she is very busy with our other three kids. ‘ ‘I called my mother just after my last lift and she said how proud she is. She does a lot for me outside, helping me food, taking me to school, I can relax at home. I am doing a sports massage therapist course and I finish by the end of this year and my mother helps me with my homework.
I always want to be involved in weightlifting somehow, after my career as a competitive lifter.