Sherif Osman: A dream only half-complete

Sherif Osman of Egypt during a lift at the 2019 World Championships where he took his fourth world title
Sherif Osman of Egypt during a lift at the 2019 World Championships where he took his fourth world title

The Egyptian powerlifter has a dream to win six Paralympic gold medals in six Games. And he's halfway there after his success at Beijing, London and Rio

"Don't think about if you can or cannot, trust yourself and try."

These are the words Sherif Osman shared with those around the world during a recent Instagram Live during the IPC's One Year to Go celebrations last month.

The three-time Paralympic champion has always believed that anything was possible. And he wants to share this mantra with the world because growing up had not been easy, as Osman explained.

"Being born with a disability in a small village in Egypt is not an easy thing. I saw a lot of pity and difficulties so I wanted to change this and make myself and my family proud."

"I wanted to send a message to the world that I can do anything I want."

He took up powerlifting in 2005 after being encouraged by his first coach Said Abd El Hafez, also Egypt’s first powerlifting Paralympic medallist.

From there, Osman has essentially been unstoppable. So much so that he holds the world record in both the -54kg and -59kg categories as well as the Paralympic record in 59kg event.

Being born with a disability in a small village in Egypt is not an easy thing.

I saw a lot of pity and difficulties so I wanted to change this and make myself and my family proud.

I wanted to send a message to the world that I can do anything I want.

Only halfway there

After winning silver at the 2006 World Championships in the Republic of South Korea, Osman was hungry to go to a Paralympic Games. But it would be a two-year wait until he could take to the stage at Beihang University Gymnasium for Beijing 2008.

It was a memorable Paralympics debut for the Egyptian as with every lift in the 56kg event he beat the World Record.

"Wow...it was amazing. I liked it a lot. First Paralympic Games for me, first gold medal for me, first Paralympic and World Record for me. it was very good," Osman said.

Four years later, at London 2012, he won gold again.

With two Paralympic golds in his pocket, Osman was looking to set a new goal...a new dream that he would work towards achieving.

(L to R) Silver medallist Rasool Mohsin of Iraq, gold medallist Sherif Osman of Egypt and bronze medallist Keum-Jong Jung of Republic of South Korea celebrating during the medal ceremony for the Men's -56 kg Powerlifting category at the 2008 Paralympic Games (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
(L to R) Silver medallist Rasool Mohsin of Iraq, gold medallist Sherif Osman of Egypt and bronze medallist Keum-Jong Jung of Republic of South Korea celebrating during the medal ceremony for the Men's -56 kg Powerlifting category at the 2008 Paralympic Games (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
2008 Getty Images

"I thought about going to another body weight and I will get a gold and break the record again so every time I have to re-new my dreams. If you have just one dream, if you've got it, you will relax," he said.

Osman had a burning passion to keep pushing himself to achieve more.

At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Osman won his third consecutive gold medal breaking both Paralympic and World Records in the process. The feat was a huge achievement in itself, but the then 33-year-old knew he hadn't reached his goal yet.

"When I got the last gold medal in 2016, the media from IPC and all over the world asked me: 'What do you feel now?' And my reply was 'I feel like I'm in the middle of my road'," he recalled.

Visibly confused by Osman's answer, they wanted to know more.

Why was he in the middle of the road? What did this mean?

"I have a big dream. I'd like to get six gold medals at six Paralympic Games. And now I have three so I want three more medals."

Osman would like to be part of Para powerlifting history so has vowed to try continue striving for his goal.

"I will fight. I will do it," he said with a smile.

"Everyone has the power to do anything, it's just starting from your mind."

'I got older and I got stronger'

When the Paralympic Powerlifting competition gets underway next year at Tokyo International Forum, Osman will be just two weeks shy of his 39th birthday.

Despite his age, and what many may think, the Egyptian athlete is aiming high as he hunts down his fourth consecutive gold medal and another chance to break a record. And he doesn't see his age as a barrier to achieving this.

"It will send a message for all that age is just a number," he said, "I got older and I got stronger."

However, there is one other message that he wants to impart with the world.

"My main target from all of this is to send a message to all of the people all around the world that we [people with impairments] are normal."