Nigeria’s Paul Kehinde is a Paralympic and World Champion in the Para Powerlifting Sport. Kehinde previously held the world records at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and 2017 World Championships before setting another record at the 9th Fazza 2018 World Para Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai.
The champion who hails from Epe in Aredo Local Government Area in Lagos, Nigeria shared with aclsports.com how he started Powerlifting from the streets of Lagos to the World stage.
ACLSports.com: Congratulation Paul Kehinde on your latest. Nigerians and the world will love to know how you got into Para Powerlifting.
Kehinde: Thank you very much. My name is Paul Olumide Kehinde (M.O.N), I am a powerlifter in the 65kg male category.
I started powerlifting since 2005 but to be sincere; carrying of weight has always been my hobby because before going to the stadium I’ve always carried weight on the street with able bodied men. Then my late mother (may her soul rest in peace) was always angry at me because she didn’t want me to stress myself at all and she also believe that it was the weight that do make me fall sick most time. Each time I fall sick after lifting; she’ll beat me before telling me am a disobedient child.
ACLSports.com: What changed your narrative?
Kehinde: One fateful day, someone by the name Kehinde Adetayo met me on my way and asked me if I’m training in stadium and I said no. He started preaching to me to come join people with disabilities like myself in stadium and I told him to come to my house and tell my parent. He promised to come pay my parent a courtesy visit when he was free; lo and behold, he convinced my mother and she accepted telling me to follow him the next Monday morning.
When we arrived at the stadium, he (Adetayo) handed me over to Prince Are Feyisetan who happens to by my personal coach. Coach Feyisetan advised me to be serious with the training say one day am going to be a champion and to be celebrated by the world. After the pep talk with my coach, I started training and surprisingly, my mother who once discouraged me from participating in powerlifting, started supporting me with transport fare to the stadium.
My late mother advised me to continue with the sport and that I should not play with it since that is what I love doing. My mother said she believed “that with the living God she’s serving, the sport will take me high”. Her words gave me encouragement and I kept it in my mind till date.
ACLSports.com: When did you start competitive powerlifting?
Kehinde: Before the 2006 Gateway Games in Ogun state, I lost my mum to the cold hands of death. To be sincere, I lost my only hope because there was no one else I believed could stand by me like her but I keep trying my best by still going for training.
Most times, I come to the stadium with empty stomach, train and go home. Sometime, Coach Kehinde Adetayo who introduced me to the sport will pay for my transport and also buy me food and my daddy always trying his possible best.
During my first competition at the Gateway in 2006, I was not able to win any medal but I put in more effort by training day and night. By 2007, I had improved drastically because by then, I have started pulling 170kg. This made people at various states (of the country) start to notice me; Delta state approached me to represent them for National Sports Festival in 2009 where I won my first gold. Before the 2009 National Sports Festival, I have been going to many trials and have been winning gold medals.
ACLSports.com: When did you get your chance of representing Nigeria on the international scene?
Kehinde: After breaking into limelight in 2009, I was consistent in my training leaving no stone unturned. I got my first call up in 2011 to represent Nigeria at the Dubai Fazza World Para Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai where I won a silver medal. When I got back from Dubai, I made a promise to myself with the backing of God that I don’t want to settle for anything less than gold medal. Afterwards, I’ve always been winning Gold medal for Nigeria and at the 2016 Paralympics Games in Rio, I broke and set up new world record in my category. Same happened in the 2017 World Championships in Mexico, where I not only won gold but set a World Record. My latest feat was last February; I hauled up 221kg to break the World Record in the men’s under-65kg that I set last November.
ACLSports.com: Kehinde, what should we expect at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia?
Kehinde: Hahahaha, Nigerians should be rest assured that I will bring a gold medal back home. I have promise myself in every competition I go, I must always set a new world record.
ACLSports.com: Any last words from you?
Kehinde: Hmmm, I pray the Lagos state government under the leadership of His Excellency, Akinwunmi Ambode honours me. After the last 2016 Rio Olympic Games, I did everything to see the Governor but I could not secure an appointment. I hope to see the Governor one on one before or after the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
ACLSports.com: It’s a pleasure having this conversation with you.
Kehinde: Thank you for this rare opportunity. Most times, people don’t give us the opportunity to express ourselves because they see us as second hand citizens. We have made the country proud and we deserve a place in the history books of Nigeria. Thank you aclsports.com for doing the interview. God bless you