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Power lifter Ali Jawad hopes to be first person with Crohn's disease to land Olympic or Paralympic gold

Power lifter Ali Jawad hopes to land Olympic or Paralympic gold. Credit: ITV London

If determination counts for anything, Paralympic power lifter Ali Jawad has already won Olympic gold.

The 27-year-old was born without legs, fled his native Lebanon to escape conflict as a child and in adulthood has been diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

Ali Jawad. Credit: ITV London

But Jawad, who is used to overcoming obstacles, hopes to be the first person with Crohn's to win a medal at an Olympics or Paralympics.

He has qualified for the 59kg class at this summer's Games in Rio and is in his best form ever. He had won gold at the World Championships in 2014 and the 2015 European Championships, but he is still pushing for Paralympic success.

The target is to come away with some sort of medal. After last time, it will be something that I really want, after all the hurdles in my way, I think to finally get one, will be a dream come true.

– Ali Jawad

His family moved to Tottenham when he was six-months-old, to escape Lebanon, a country engulfed in conflict with Israel. At 16-years-old he took up powerlifting and by 19 he had qualified for the Beijing Games:

He said: "My first Paralympics was like a dream come true to qualify but at the same time it turned into a nightmare when I was there. I was really happy, I was enjoying Beijing and the night before I competed I got very sick and I didn't know what it was".

Months later, after he had lost a staggering four stone, he discovered he had Crohn's disease, an incurable condition which affects the digestive system and causes fatigue.

I just didn't want to wake up anymore really because of the pain that I was in, the complications of my Crohns, my whole life had changed overnight.

One night I was at the Paralympics representing my country, the next day I'm diagnosed with a condition that I'm never going to get rid of.

– Ali Jawad

His intestine was removed and he retired from sport for six months, which left him depressed.

Obviously when you're denied controversially like that at a home Paralympic Games in front of your family and friends who have seen you suffer for four years to get there it's hard to take.

I guess the first four or five months after the Games I got very depressed, I ate things that I shouldn't have eaten and I made myself flare".

– Ali Jawad

He says he eventually wants to win gold, but in Rio, any medal would feel like success after so much heartbreak.