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Para powerlifting

Female Para athlete strapped to bench at hips as she competes in Para powerlifting

What is Para powerlifting?

Para powerlifting requires strength, power, coordination and dedication to training. This sport tests the upper body strength of Para athletes. Sometimes Para athletes lift more than three times their own body weight!

History of Para powerlifting

Para powerlifting was one of the first sports contested by disabled people. It has been included in the Paralympic Games since 1984 in New York.

Initially the sport of weightlifting only catered for male athletes with a spinal cord injury, but in the years that followed the sport began to include other impairment groups too.

As well as the Paralympic Games, there are biennial World Championships, triennial regional Championships and annual World Cup and Grand Prix events in Para powerlifting.

How do you compete in Para powerlifting?

The only discipline in Paralympic powerlifting is the bench press. Para athletes compete in weight classes at the bench press. The winner is the person who lifts the heaviest weight. Individuals are grouped by body weight, meaning athletes with different disabilities compete for the same medal. Para athletes can be strapped to the bench at any point from their ankles to their hips if they wish. 

Para athletes assume a position on a specially designed bench. Para athletes then receive the bar at arms length where the lifter then waits with locked elbows for the Chief Referee’s signal. Upon receiving the signal “start“, the Para athletes must lower the bar to the chest and hold it visibly on the chest, and then press it upwards to arms length, with an even extension of the arms and locked elbows. An immediate decision is then given by three nominated international referees, through a system of white and red lights.

Each Para athlete can make three attempts. If a Para athlete wishes to make an attempt in order to achieve a record, they can make a fourth attempt. This attempt does not count towards the final competition result.

Who can compete in Para powerlifting?

All competitors have an impairment in their lower limbs or hips that meets the minimum impairment criteria to compete in Para powerlifting. Competitors must be able to extend their arms within 20° of full extension during a lift.

There are 8 eligible impairment types which are explained on the World Para Powerlifting webpage.

Para athletes compete together in one sport class across 10 different weight categories per gender.

Para powerlifting in New Zealand

For more information about Para powerlifting visit International Paralympic Committee Powerlifting.

Powerlifting is not currently delivered widely in New Zealand, but register your interest now and we will help you to find a Para sport for you in your local area.

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