TUCSON, Ariz — It's a typical weekday at Team-Fit Tucson training gym, and Ahmed Shafik has three 45-pound plates on each side of his barbell as he prepares to bench press.
"I love lifting weights," says Shafik.
The son of a record setting Iraqi weightlifter, Shafik was born with polio, affecting the strength of his legs. So, he became a powerlifter, and focued on the bench press. Shafik was part of Iraq's first world championship powerlifting team, but his fifth place finish wasn't good enough for Saddam Hussein's son Uday, who put the entire team in jail for its performance.
"We were tortured and humiliated every single day for 14 months," said Shafik. "It was tough. It was very hard to be in jail for 14 months for doing something I love."
Following his release from an Iraqi jail, Shafik moved to the United States. He would join the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq as a translator.
"I helped the U.S. Army for their operation for three years, and it was a really good experience."
Shaifk also resumed competing. He was a member for the U.S. Paralympic Team for both the London 2012 games, and Rio in 2016. And jus this past summer, Shafik earned a career best finish of silver at the Parpan American Games. His next goal is Tokyo in 2020.
"This is a big dream, and I'm really fighting for it."