Para powerlifting has been included in the Paralympic Games since 1984 in New York. Para powerlifting is open to anyone with a minimum level of disability (paralysis, lower limb amputations and cerebral palsy) who can extend their arms within 20° of full extension during a lift. This sport tests the upper body strength of Para athletes and can sometimes see Para athlete lift more than three times their own body weight!

Para powerlifting involves Para athletes competing in weight classes at the bench press, with the winner being 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. 

Male and female 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 is granted three attempts, however if a Para athlete wishes to make an attempt in order to achieve a record, they can make a fourth attempt.

At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, 179 Para athletes from 60 countries competed in 20 different medal events.

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!