Paris 2024: Introduction to Para powerlifting

The Paris 2024 Paralympics will feature up to 180 athletes competing in 20 medal events 06 May 2024
Lucy Ejike of Nigeria lifts weights during competition
Para powerlifting is one of the fastest growing Para sports in terms of the number of participants
ⒸAlex Pantling/ Getty Images

Welcome to Week 11 of Paris 2024 Paralympic Sport Weeks. This week, everything you need to know about Para powerlifting – the ultimate test of upper body strength.

WPPO will have 50-50 gender equality in terms of athletes and medals. There will be up to 180 athletes competing in 20 medal events during five competition days in the French capital.


Brief history of Para powerlifting

Para powerlifting is one of the fastest growing Para sports in terms of the number of participants. Some form of lifting weights has been a part of the Paralympic programme since Tokyo 1964, the second edition of the Paralympic Games.

While weightlifting made its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 1964, it was not until the 1984 Games that powerlifting was first included as a Paralympic sport. At the 1984 Paralympics, 16 male athletes from six countries took part in the competition in New York, USA.

The women’s competition was introduced at Sydney 2000, and the level of competition has seen a huge growth. At Tokyo 2020, a total of 178 athletes (90 men and 88 women) competed in 20 events at the Tokyo International Forum in Japan.

The first World Championships under the governance of World Para Powerlifting was held in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1994, with 137 athletes taking part. The event was then held every four years until 2014, and every two years since 2017. The previous edition was held in Dubai last year, with the participation of 516 athletes from 80 countries.

Para powerlifting made its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 1964. @Hiroki Nishioka/ World Para Powerlifting


What to watch in Para powerlifting

Athletes showcase their strength on the bench press at the Paralympic Games, often lifting more than three times their bodyweight.

There is only one sport class in Para powerlifting, in which all athletes have an impairment in their lower limbs or hips. Athletes compete in one of 10 categories based on body weight for each gender.

Athletes will start their lift attempt after the chief referee gives the start command. They must lower the bar to their chest, hold it motionless on the chest and then press it upwards to arms’ length with locked elbows and hold the bar under control until the chief referee gives the rack command.

Three referees decide whether the attempt is a good lift by looking at different sequences. For a successful result, a competitor needs a minimum of two white flags – a white flag is raised for a good lift and a red flag for no lift.

Each athlete gets three attempts, with the winner being the athlete who has lifted the heaviest weight. Athletes may even attempt a fourth lift, called ‘Power lift’ to break a Paralympic or a World Record.


Memorable Paralympic moments

Egypt’s Fatma Omar won powerlifting gold at every Games from Sydney 2000 to London 2012, and captured silver medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Mexico’s Amalia Perez and China’s Fu Taoying also have four gold medals under their belts.

Mexico’s Amalia Perez won the women's -61 kg division at Tokyo 2020. @Hiroki Nishioka/ World Para Powerlifting

Siamand Rahman of the Islamic Republic of Iran cemented his legend status at Rio 2016 after becoming the first Paralympian to lift over 300 kg. He eventually lifted 310kg - equivalent of two baby elephants.

Le Van Cong also made history in the Brazilian city, capturing Vietnam’s first-ever Paralympic gold medal. Nigeria dominated by winning six of the 20 gold medals up for grabs at Rio.

Five years later, many memorable moments were made at Tokyo 2020. Omar Qarada and David Degtyarev won the first Paralympic powerlifting gold medals for Jordan and Kazakhstan, respectively.

Also in the Japanese capital, China’s Liu Lei ended his Paralympic career in style with his fourth successive gold medal. He is tied with China’s Zhang Haidong atop the men’s all-time Para powerlifting medals table with four golds.

Liu Lei won his fourth straight Paralympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020. @Hiroki Nishioka/World Para Powerlifting


Paris 2024 programme

This summer’s Paralympic Games will see up to 180 athletes from around the world competing in a total of 20 medals events.

Men’s events

Up to 49 kg 

Up to 54 kg 

Up to 59 kg 

Up to 65 kg 

Up to 72 kg 

Up to 80 kg 

Up to 88 kg 

Up to 97 kg 

Up to 107 kg

Over 107 kg


Women’s events

Up to 41 kg 

Up to 45 kg 

Up to 50 kg 

Up to 55 kg 

Up to 61 kg 

Up to 67 kg 

Up to 73 kg 

Up to 79 kg 

Up to 86 kg 

Over 86 kg


Paris 2024 venue 

Para powerlifting competitions will be staged at Porte de la Chapelle Arena, one of the new venues at Paris 2024.

Para powerlifting competitions will be staged at Porte de la Chapelle Arena. @Paris 2024 / Mairie de Paris - SCAU / NP2F

The eco-design venue will be transformed into a cultural and sport hub for people in northern Paris after the Games. Ahead of Para powerlifting competitions, the arena will play host to Para badminton players from around the world.



Book your tickets for the Paralympic Games by visiting the Paris 2024 ticketing website.

Learn more about the sport by accessing World Para Powerlifting’s free introductory course