Team USA Snags Three Top Six Finishes of Third Day of Santiago 2023
by Heidi Ledermann
SANTIAGO, CHILE - Para powerlifting events on day three of the Parapan American Games Santiago 2023 marked a return to competition for two Team USA athletes, and with that, a return to the camaraderie that makes Team USA so special.
Starting off the third day of competition for the United States, Ashley Dyce (Colton, California) entered the competition platform for the women’s up to 86 kg & over 86 kg with a look on her face that can only be described as pure joy and excitement. This was Dyce’s first time hearing her name introduced at a competition since sustaining an injury in 2022.
“I definitely had some nerves and some angst just waiting to get on the platform,” said Dyce. “But once I was up there, I just went right back to where I know I needed to be, and my confidence just came right back in.”
After narrowly missing her first lift attempt of 93 kg, Dyce found her rhythm with her second and third successful lifts of 95 kg and 103 kg, proving that she is still just as fierce of competitor as before her injury.
“It went very well today,” said Dyce after competing. “I lifted my best for right now, and I am good with the outcome.”
Dyce finished the day in sixth place with her eyes set on the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
“I’m ready to go back home and train and get ready for the next thing,” said Dyce. “I’m still moving forward and just keep on going, getting stronger, getting better and getting ready for the Games next year.”
Also making his comeback to competition after an injury was Ahmed Shafik (Tucson, Arizona) in the men’s up to 88 kg category. He started out strong with a successful lift of 182 kg. Unfortunately, his second and third attempts of 186 kg were determined to be unsuccessful by the event officials. However, Shafik stated that he was proud of his fifth-place finish as it means he is back on track with his training plans.
“I followed the plan, and I did exactly what was in my book and I’m excited,” said Shafik. “I’m satisfied with my result for today.”
The two-time Paralympian has been a foundational member of Team USA, and as the only member of the team to have previously competed in the Parapan American Games, Shafik has proudly stepped into a mentor role to his other teammates.
“I’ve been competing for Team USA for over 17 years, and I use that experience to do the best in competing and to lead my teammates to success,” said Shafik. “I tell them to keep doing what they do. We have the best team – in my opinion – on the whole continent, and they do great, they do an awesome job, and everybody is actually moving forward. Hopefully we get qualified for Paris next year.”
Shafik’s leadership was on full display while teammate Garrison Redd (Brownsville, New York) competed in the men’s up to 65 kg category. Redd’s first lift attempt was unsuccessful, but Shafik called out to him before his second attempt, reminding Redd to breathe and letting him know that his teammates were supporting him. The second time proved to be the charm for Redd, as he successfully finished his 130 kg lift.
“It helps me tremendously,” said Redd of the cheering. “It gives me energy, and it’s very important to have your teammates support and encouragement all the time.”
With his last lift of the evening, Redd pushed with every bit of effort he had left, but ultimately was unable to lift the 103 kg weight. Redd finished in sixth place. Although he matched his personal best, Redd said he is planning to figure out how he can better improve for future competitions.
“That last lift is going to haunt me for a bit, but I went out there and did my best,” said Redd. “Once I review the video, I’ll know what I need to work on for 2024. I know I must get stronger and I’m going to keep working hard.”
Competition continues tomorrow, Nov. 21, with the final day of Para powerlifting. All sessions will be streamed live on the Pan Am sports channel. Follow U.S. Paralympics Powerlifting on Instagram for updates and results throughout the competition, which runs through Nov. 26.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.
Team USA Results – Nov. 20:
Ahmed Shafik – 5th, Men’s Up to 88 kg
Ashley Dyce – 6th, Women’s Up to 86 kg & Over 86 kg
Garrison Redd – 6th, Men’s Up to 65 kg