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Official website of World Para Powerlifting

    About the sport

    Powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength and can sometimes see athletes lift more than three times their own body weight!

    It is open to male and female athletes with the following eight (8) eligible physical impairments (impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, and athetosis) with a range of physical disabilities, including (Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord injuries, Lower Limb Amputation, poliomyelitis), who meet the current minimal eligibility criteria and can perform, safely and appropriately, according to the World Para Powerlifting rules. All eligible athletes compete in one sport class, but in different weight categories.

    The bench press is the sport’s single discipline, with 10 different categories based on body weight. Competitors must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless on the chest and then press it upwards to arms length with locked elbows. Athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the highest number of kilograms.

    Competition description

    Men compete in the 49kg, 54kg, 59kg, 65kg, 72kg, 80kg, 88kg, 97kg, 107kg and +107kg divisions.

    Women compete in the 41kg, 45kg, 50kg, 55kg, 61kg, 67kg, 73kg, 79kg, 86kg and +86kg divisions.

    In powerlifting, male and female athletes assume a supine position on a specially designed bench, and after taking or receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter shall wait with locked elbows and the bar under control for the Chief Referee's signal. After receiving the signal "start", the lifter must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless (visible) on the chest and then press it upwards evenly, with an even equal extension of both the arms with locked elbows. When held motionless and controlled in this position, the audible signal "rack" shall be given and the bar is returned to the rack. Then an immediate decision shall be given by the three nominated international referees through a system of white and red lights. Two or more white lights signify a good lift and two or more red lifts reflect a no lift.

    Each athlete has three attempts, and upon discretion of the jury a fourth attempt may be allowed to achieve a new world record, but this attempt does not count towards the final competition result.

    For further information, please visit the World Para Powerlifting Rules and Regulations.


    World Para Powerlfiting approved discs must conform to a number of standards outlined in the sport’s rules and regulations. Athletes compete lying on an official World Para Powerlifting approved bench which is 2.1m long. The width of the bench is 61cm wide, and narrows to 30cm where the head is placed. The height of the bench varies between 48 and 50cm from the ground.


    In 1964 “Weightlifting” made its debut at the Tokyo Paralympic Games and featured just men with spinal cord injuries. Over the following years the sport and began to include other disability groups and incorporate rules similar to those of Powerlifting competitions for able bodied athletes.

    In 1992 it was decided that the Paralympics should only feature powerlifting as opposed to weightlifting. The resulting Barcelona Games saw athletes from 25 countries compete for medals.

    By the 1996 Atlanta Games this number had increased to 58, and by 2000, the year women first competed in Paralympic Powerlifting, the sport was practiced on all five continents.

    Today the sport boasts hundreds of athletes from more than 110 countries.

    At the Rio 2016 Games, 180 athletes competed in 20 medal events.

    In 2016, IPC Powerlifting was renamed and rebranded to World Para Powerlifting.

    Growth of Weightlifting at the Paralympic Games
    Year Countries Medal events Male Female Total
    1964 10 4 18 0 18
    1968 13 4 28 0 28
    1972 18 6 46 0 46
    1976 16 6 43 0 43
    1980 18 11 58 0 58
    Growth of Powerlifting at the Paralympic Games
    Year Countries Medal events Male Female Total
    1984 6 7 16 0 16
    1988 16 9 52 0 52
    1992 25 10 106 0 106
    1996 56 10 141 0 141
    2000 67 20 166 92 257
    2004 69 20 150 79 229
    2008 74 20 121 82 203
    2012 61 20 113 80 193
    2016 60 20 100 80 180
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