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About the sport

Powerlifting explained by Siow Lee Chan © • IPC

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 IPC 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.

The sport is governed by the IPC and co-ordinated by the IPC Powerlifting Technical Committee.

Competition description

Athletes must be at least 14 years of age and have the ability to fully extend the arms with no more than a 20 degree loss of full extension on either elbow when making an approved lift.

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 position on a specially designed bench and, after taking or receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter shall wait with locked elbows 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, with an even extension of the arms,-to-arms length with locked elbows. When held motionless in this position the audible signal "rack" shall be given. An immediate decision shall be given by the three nominated international referees through a system of white and red lights.

Each athlete has three attempts. If an athlete wishes to make an attempt in order to achieve a record, they can make a fourth attempt.

For further information, please visit the rules and regulations section of the site.

Equipment

IPC Powerlfiting approved discs must conform to a number of standards outlined in the sport’s rules and regulations. Athletes compete lying on an official bench which is 2.1m long. The main part of the bench is 61cm wide. At the end of the bench and towards the head, the bench narrows down to 30cm. The height of the bench varies between 48 and 50cm from the ground.

History

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 started to include other disability groups and incorporate rules identical 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 100 countries.

At the London 2012 Games, 200 athletes will compete in 20 medal events.

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
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
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