Mexico City 2017: History of the Powerlifting Worlds

Huge growth in competition since first edition in 1994 11 Aug 2017
Powerlifter on a bench lifting a bar

Chinese powerlifter Lei Liu at the Dubai 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships


With 50 days to go until the World Para Powerlifting Championships get underway in Mexico City, we can see how far the competition has come since the first edition in 1994, when 137 athletes gathered in Uppsala, Sweden. Since then, the sport’s biggest competition outside the Paralympics has been staged every four years and has enjoyed steady growth.

Four years later, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, received 269 powerlifters at the second World Championships, including women for the first time, a landmark in the sport’s history.

Kuala Lumpur held its first of two powerlifting Worlds in 2002, with 234 athletes from 49 countries competing. This event began a love affair between the sport and the Malaysian capital city, which would receive multiple powerlifting competitions in the following years.

The fourth World Championships took place in Busan, South Korea. Only 12 years after the first edition, the number of athletes competing nearly doubled the ones in Uppsala, with a boost in female participation. Unprecedented levels of powerlifting performances were witnessed, with 12 world records set across junior and senior events.

The Worlds returned to Kuala Lumpur in 2010, attracting 292 athletes from 49 countries. Iran’s then 22-year-old Siamand Rahman burst onto the international scene at this competition by breaking the world record for both senior and junior in the men’s over 100kg with a 285kg lift.

Other Paralympic champions who shone in Malaysia are China’s Lei Liu (men’s up to 67.5kg), Egypt’s Sherif Osman (men’s up to 56kg).

Asia received the World Championships for a fifth time in 2014, with Dubai hosting the event as in 1998. Nigeria led the medals table with five golds, one silver and one bronze, followed by Egypt and China.

Rahman confirmed his status as the world’s strongest Paralympian by winning the men’s over 107kg with a 285.5kg world record lift.

This year, a record number of around 360 powerlifters coming from 65 countries are travelling to Mexico City to compete at the latest edition of the Worlds, at the Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium in Mexico City, from 30 September-6 October.