Paralympic Games
24 August - 5 September 2021

Tokyo 2020: Takeaways from Para powerlifting

China's Liu Lei ending his Paralympic career with fourth successive gold medal at the Paralympic Games was no mean feat 02 Oct 2021
A man showing his medal and four fingers in a hand
TASTE OF SUCCESS: Liu Lei poses with his fourth Paralympic gold medal after winning the men's up to 65kg at Tokyo 2020.
ⒸHiroki Nishioka for World Para Powerlifting

A plethora of new Paralympic champions rose and plenty of World records marked the five-day action at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Here are some of the exploits from the Para Powerlifting competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Games.


The Tokyo 2020 Games saw several countries ending their long wait for a Powerlifting medal. On the opening day, Jordan and Kazakhstan celebrated their first Paralympic gold medals in the sport, thanks to the powerful efforts of Omar Qarada and David Degtyarev.

Omar Qarada in action.

Qarada added his first gold (with a lift of 173kg) to his two silver medals won at Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 in the men’s up to 49kg. It was Jordan’s second ever Paralympic gold medal after Maha Al Bargouti’s victorious campaign in table tennis at the Sydney 2000 Games.

Meanwhile, Degtyarev won Kazakhstan’s first gold medal in Para powerlifting – and its second in Paralympic Games after Zulfiya Gabidullina (women's 100m freestyle S3) at Rio 2016 – in the men’s up to 54kg. The Kazakh emerged winner with a lift of 174kg, which was 9kg ahead of silver medallist Axel Bourlon of France.

Bonnie Bunyau Gustin was class apart when he clinched the men’s up to 72kg shattering the Paralympic record at 228kg for Malaysia’s first ever Para Powerlifting gold.

On the penultimate day, Mariana D'Andrea gave Brazil its first gold when she lifted 137kg in her third attempt to finish ahead of China’s Xu Lili.


With no gold medals at Rio 2016, Jordan established themselves as the most improved nation at Tokyo 2020 having won three gold.

Qarada began the country’s golden spree on the opening day, which was followed by Mohammad Khattab (men’s -88kg category) and Jamil Elshebli (men’s +107kg category).

On the medals table, Jordan’s performance was their best-ever in a Paralympics as they took the third place climbing eight positions compared to Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, China came out with an extraordinary performance claiming at least one gold every day at the Tokyo International Forum to top the medals table. They eventually finished with seven gold and six silver to topple Nigeria, the first place finisher at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

China ended on top in the all-time Para Powerlifting medals standings in Paralympic Games with 27 medals.


China's Liu Lei ended his Paralympic career exactly the way he wanted. A fourth successive gold medal at the Paralympic Games is no mean feat and Lei was proud of his accomplishments and was looking forward to a career in teaching. Lei’s powerful 198kg lift in the first attempt was no match to the line-up as he clinched the men’s -65kg category gold medal.

Despite an incredible career result, Lei was humble enough to acknowledge that “there will be always someone else who will be better than me and achieve more than what I have”.

Mariana Shevchuk


Just weeks before the Tokyo 2020 Games, Mariana Shevchuk was hanging between life and death. She was in a critical situation having suffered meningitis and would seem almost impossible for her to come out with a medal winning performance in Tokyo. However, the gritty Ukrainian didn’t show any sign of the disease and came out stronger to lift 125kg in her very first attempt in the women's up to 55kg finals.

She though admitted that “it was very hard to win the gold medal in Tokyo.”


Already a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, Amalia Perez waited for that ‘perfect’ lift at the Tokyo International Forum. After slight technical errors in the first two, she finally got that one opportunity and she didn’t let it go. She raised the bar to 131kg in her final lift to take the women’s -61kg category gold, finishing ahead of another three-time Paralympic champion and top contender Lucy Ejike of Nigeria.

For Perez, this medal would be closest to her heart as she stood on the podium at Tokyo 2020 for sixth time in her career.