Paralympic Powerlifting

Learn about this Summer Paralympic sport

April 27, 2012

Thailand's Prasit Thongdee lifts in the Men's 60 kg at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

Paralympic Powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. The sport made its first appearance at the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. It was originally called weightlifting and only men with spinal injuries could compete. The rules were later changed to include women and competitors with other disabilities. Today, the competition is open to all athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, amputations (lower limb amputees only) and others who meet the disability requirements. Women made their Paralympic Powerlifting debut at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia.

From 1992 to 1996, the number of countries with participants in Paralympic powerlifting more than doubled. Since then, that number has risen to 109 countries. It is the fastest growing Paralympic sport in the world.

Rules of the Games

In Paralympic powerlifting, athletes must meet requirements based on their impairment. They are then grouped by bodyweight for competition. Athletes with different impairments compete for the same medals. There are 10 different weight categories for men and women.

Powerlifters must lower the bench-press bar to their chest and hold it motionless. They must then press it upwards to arm’s length while keeping their elbows locked. Athletes are given three attempts. The winner is the athlete who lifts the most weight (measured in kilograms).


Click here to read about track and field at the Paralympic Games.

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