Togo/Bawa Aliou, a Paralympic athlete who honors his country

Hairdresser by profession, Bawa Aliou aka “Adebayor”, is one of the few wheelchair athletes to be a credit to the national colors of his country Togo during major events. The athlete has won several medals in the 49 kg category of weightlifting. The native of Koumondè in Assoli discovered this sport in the 90s while watching Paralympic athletes achieve feats on TV. In 2020, Bawa Aliou “Adébayor” will be representing Togo at the Tokyo Olympics.

Born on December 31, 1983, Bawa Aliou quickly knew that his fate was very different from that of his peers who could play soccer or engage in other sports activities, because of his lower limbs disability. However, this will not be a hindrance to his blooming.

Very early, he discovers wheelchair sports while watching TV, a discovery that gave him a new lease of hope. At the age of seven, while being unable to kick a ball around or go on shopping, he began to make weights. Arrived at Sokodé from Koumondè, Bawa chose weightlifting and wheelchair athletics as his favorite discipline. Thus, during a competition he was noticed by the wheelchair sports managers in 2007, as he mounted the first rank of the podium.

His first medal at the continental level was bronze won in Nouakchott in 2007. During the 11th African Games held in Brazzaville in 2015, he once again took third place synonymous with the bronze medal. A year later, he was the first disabled athlete since 1968 to represent Togo at the Rio Olympic Games. Out of 161 countries, Bawa Aliou ranks seventh behind France. In August 2018, he went to Alger for a qualifying competition in the Tokyo Olympic Games. He managed to lift 115 kg and finished in third place of the podium which allowed him to validate his ticket for Tokyo 2020. In the same year, Bawa again won the bronze in the Africa Championship.

From July 11 – 20, 2019, Bawa Aliou competed at the World Weightlifting Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan. He competed on July 13, 2019 and is ranked 5th for a performance of 105 kg.

His strength? His strong spirit.

“In life, it is courage and faith that allow us to move forward” acknowledged Bawa Aliou. “The fact of seeing physically challenged people do sports on TV channels has given me the strength and courage to move forward,” he added.

To stay healthy and be always be at the top of the league , Bawa Aliou works out four days out of 7 with weights made on site at his home in Sokodé due to the lack of sophisticated equipment. “Bawa is a very tough and disciplined athlete at work. He never says I cannot but rather, I will do it. He does not back down to work”, hinted his coach. “This young man is trying to be a star and it is our duty to give him that opportunity,” he said. For his workouts he can do more than 5 hours a day in conditions that are very often difficult for an athlete of his caliber.

Despite his busy schedule, Bawa Aliou still manages his time to satisfy his customers in his hairdressing workshop. Qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, he increases his working hours in order to be among the best in his category and tentatively win a medal for Togo.

Translated from French :

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