New direction for Australian Para powerlifting

The sport will now be under the National Federation, giving it more focus and sustainability 16 Sep 2017
Male powerlifter lifts a bar

Australia's Abebe Fekadu lifts in the men's up to 56 kg at Beijing 2008

By Australian Paralympic Committee

"... it is time for the sport to be managed by a national federation that has a sole focus on the sport and is well positioned to deliver sustainable growth at all levels"

Para powerlifting in Australia will enter an exciting new era thanks to an agreement announced by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) and Powerlifting Australia (PA).

Managed by the APC since the 1990s, Australia’s Para powerlifting programme will now operate under the direction of PA in a move APC Chief Executive Officer Lynne Anderson believes is a positive step.

“The APC is very proud of the achievements of its powerlifting programme over many years, however it is time for the sport to be managed by a national federation that has a sole focus on the sport and is well positioned to deliver sustainable growth at all levels,” Anderson said.

“The APC has absolute confidence that PA’s expertise will ensure that our current and emerging athletes and coaches will have access to support and more competition opportunities they need to continue their development.

The transition comes at an important time for Australian Para powerlifting, as its leading athletes push for selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Next month’s National Para Powerlifting competition on the Gold Coast, sanctioned by World Para Powerlifting, will provide the final opportunity for athletes to obtain an international classification in time for the Commonwealth Games and to also record a performance which will be recognised for qualification.

Under the ‘mainstreaming’ agreement, PA will assume responsibility for the planning, coordination and delivery of the programme, while the APC will provide ongoing specialised support in classification, talent identification, physical therapies and skill acquisition.

At an international level, the sport is managed by World Para Powerlifting, a body under International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Management. With the APC transferring national governance of the sport to PA without dedicated ASC High Performance funding, the APC has provided a grant for 2017/18 to PA which will ensure athletes are well supported during their preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. In addition to the APC grant, Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) has provided PA with a grant to support the preparation of Gold Coast medal potential athletes.

“We appreciate the vision of the APC to transition this programme and I have no doubt that Powerlifting Australia can now build on the proud history of Para-powerlifting in Australia,” Simon Bergner, High Performance Manager of Powerlifting Australia’s Para programme, said.

“The job for us now is to integrate Para sport into our networks and programmess and ensure more Australian Para powerlifters can find a club, a coach, more competition and classification opportunities which we hope will ultimately lead to more athletes representing Australia at the Paralympic level. It’s a challenge we’re ready to embrace."

The APC has demonstrated success in mainstreaming Para sport programmes within National Federations, having previously acted as the national body for all elite Paralympic sports. Sixteen Paralympic sport programmes have been mainstreamed, while the APC continues to manage elite Para sport programmes for three sports; wheelchair rugby, goalball and boccia.

“We know that the mainstreaming of Paralympic programmes within national sports federations has integrated sporting opportunities and pathways for people with a disability within the mainstream sport environment. Our ultimate objective is to normalise Para sport for participants, coaches, administrators and officials at all levels and hopefully that will prove to be case with Powerlifting Australia as it has for our other sporting partners. We are also confident that Powerlifting Australia can provide many more Para powerlifting competition opportunities within their current competition structure than which currently exist,” Anderson said.

Australia has won 17 medals in powerlifting since it first appeared in the Paralympic Games back in 1984.