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I've turned my living room into a Gym!

21st August 2020

National Lottery funded athlete Ali Jawad has been working out in his living room in lockdown, using the Games’ postponement to bolster his bid for a maiden gold medal. We catch up with him on his Track To Tokyo

Ali Jawad at the Paralympic Games, image courtesy of Paralympics GB

ALI Jawad wants to swap kilogram numbers with National Lottery numbers when his days pumping iron come to an end.

The Loughborough para-powerlifter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after competing at the 2008 Paralympic Games and has been working out in his living room in lockdown, using the Games’ postponement to bolster his bid for a maiden gold medal.

Tokyo will mark Jawad’s fourth Paralympics after appearing in Beijing, London and Rio, powering his way to a silver medal in the -59kg category in Brazil four years ago.

Jawad has been through the wringer since 2008 and – having been funded by The National Lottery since he was 16 – wants to swap lifting pounds with winning pounds when his Paralympic journey concludes.

“When I retire, I’ll be buying a lot of National Lottery tickets, trust me!” the 31-year-old, one of 1,100 athletes supported by the money raised for good causes, said.

“Without people buying tickets I couldn’t do this full-time – it gives me access to a world-class performance programme and also inspires people to take up new sports, so I’ll forever be thankful for it.

“The last few years have been an incredible learning curve for me, trying to adapt and be flexible to try and counter Crohn's.

“I’ve actually been quite lucky with lockdown in that over the last two years I’ve had to indirectly self-isolate anyway, so when the lockdown was put in place there was no big change.

“This has actually been quite an easy transition as I’ve lived it already - albeit not quite as intensely - and the foundations were already in place for it to be near enough business as usual.”

National Lottery funding helped propel Jawad to his maiden Paralympics in Beijing in 2008, before his dreams were dashed when he fell ill and – after the event – discovered he had been diagnosed with Crohn’s.

The then-19-year-old still competed and finished ninth but then had to make significant lifestyle changes, going on to narrowly miss out on a medal at London 2012 - he finished fourth - but make amends with that stunning silver in Rio.

That 2016 medal was one of 864 secured by Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes since National Lottery funding started in 1997, with the money raised for good causes enabling Jawad to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and use pioneering technology.

In 2018 Jawad delayed stem cell treatment for Crohn’s on the rationale it may inhibit his powerlifting career, with that desire for gold in Tokyo the key motivation to carry on lifting.

He now takes medication called prednisolone to combat his condition but has faced an uphill battle to get fighting fit for his landmark fourth Games.

Jawad viewed his chances of making 2020 as a ‘race against time’ so reckons the one-year postponement can catapult himself into contention.

“It was a race against time for me to get fit for the Games this year, but this has made me realise I've got a second chance,” he added.

“That’s my motivation and it’s definitely an opportunity - I’ve turned my living room into a gym and am trying to give myself the best chance and get back to being the old Ali Jawad!

“I want to look at myself in the mirror, appreciate the journey I’ve been on and know that I’ve pushed Crohn's to the limit, regardless of the outcome.”

Notes to editors

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing The National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo