Power lifting

Powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. Initially exclusive to male competitors with spinal cord injuries, this sport has expanded to include men and women within a wider range of impairment categories. In Paralympic powerlifting the athletes compete in the bench press.

The objective for each athlete is to lift the most kilograms. Lifters are required to lie on an official bench with their head and body (including buttocks) in contact with the bench, and their legs and both heels extended throughout the complete lift. Athletes must lower the bar to his/her chest. Once the bar is motionless on the chest, he/she presses upward, straightening arms and holds the bar motionless until signalled by the referee. Athletes are given three attempts to perform each lift; their performance is assessed by three referees. Weight increases for the second and third sets must be in multiples of 2.5kg; the only exception to this is when a new record is being set. The heaviest "good lift" (within the weight class) is used for final placing in the competition.

Powerlifting has been on the Paralympic Games program since 1984. Canada has won three silver medals at the Games: Michael Johnson in 1988 and Al Slater and Gino Vendetti in 1984.

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


There is only one sport class in powerlifting. Athletes must have a physical impairment in their lower limbs or hips, which would prohibit them from competing in able-bodied (standing) weightlifting. For safety reasons, athletes must adhere to sport technical rules regarding safety, such as being able to independently grip bar and lift it using a full upper limb extension.