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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 athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, lower limb amputees and les autres who meet the minimal physical disability criteria. Considered as the ultimate test of upper body strength, Para Powerlifting is one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports.
"Para Powerlifting made its debut at the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, featuring a handful of male competitors with spinal cord injuries. Fast-forward to the present day and the sport boasts hundreds of elite male and female athletes from a variety of disability groups, representing more than 110 countries." (British Weight Lifting)
The sport is adapted from non-disabled powerlifting, concentrating solely on the bench-press movement. The key aspect of the sport is simple; the person who lifts the most weight within their body weight category on the day of competition is deemed the winner.
Technical rules apply and during competition, 3 judges apply criteria in determining whether a lift is acceptable. Athletes must lower the bar to their chest, hold it motionless, and then press it upwards to arm’s length with elbows locking simultaneously. An athlete gets 3 attempts on stage to lift their maximum weight.
Powerlifting is a weight category sport meaning that there are medals to be won in 10 different categories depending your bodyweight. These categories range from <48kg to 100+ kg for men, while for women, the lowest weight class is <40kg all the way up to 82.5+ kg.
Within the UK, the majority of athletes compete in four Para powerlifting events across the year, both locally organised and nationally recognised events. The British Senior Championships which is the pinnacle event normally takes place in June/July of each year.
The British Powerlifting programme has been incredibly successful, and we are incredibly proud to support the growth of Para Powerlifting throughout the UK. In recent years, the programme has produced athletes such as Ali Jawad, Micky Yule and Louise Sugden (pictured below) and together this brilliant team have earned Paralympic medals, IPC World and European Championships, Commonwealth titles and British Championships to name but a few.
For those athletes who are recognised as having potential to compete internationally, there is the British Weight Lifting (BWL) Talent Confirmation which is a period of intensive training which aims to confirm athlete potential for the World Class Program (WCP). This develops all areas regarding what it takes to win medals at the Paralympic Games. This programme is home based with support and training camps based the high performance training centre in Loughborough.
Para Powerlifters of the Future
New to Para Sport or want to get your Instagram Para bench press videos seen? Then why not get involved in ‘Para Powerlifters of the Future’ from British Weight Lifting.
The new Talent ID campaign Para Powerlifters of the Future is designed to help find future Paralympians and British Weight Lifting is inviting any eligible individual to tag them into a video of yourself bench pressing to get reviewed by our World Class Program performance team.
It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced Para sport athlete or a complete beginner, we are looking to give everyone an opportunity to showcase their potential as part of this new initiative.
Get started with Powerlifting
Visit the British Weight Lifting (BWL) website to find a local club:
Liam McGarry's WheelPower Story
Read about how an introduction to Para-Powerlifting at the Inter Spinal Unit Games in 2018 has led him to a British Record lift and competing across the world.