Sports Summary

Para-powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. The athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the highest number of kilograms.

Bench press is currently the only Para-powerlifting discipline contested at the Paralympic Games, with 10 weight divisions for male and female athletes. The competition is open to all athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, short stature, lower limb loss and les autres who meet minimum impairment criteria.

Competitors are required to lower the bar to their chest, hold it motionless on their chest and then press it upwards to arm’s length with locked elbows.

Lifting for athletes with an impairment first made an appearance at the Paralympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo, Japan, where athletes competed as ‘weightlifters’. Para-powerlifting was first introduced in 1984 alongside weightlifting, and by 1996 Para-powerlifting had replaced weightlifting at the Paralympic Games.


Events & Disciplines

The men’s and women’s competitions are divided into 10 weight divisions, ranging from 49kg to over 107kg and 41kg to over 86kg, respectively.


Who is eligible for Para-powerlifting?
Athletes with a physical impairment are eligible to compete in Para-powerlifting at the Paralympic Games.

What are the classes?
For more information on eligible impairments and Para-powerlifting classes, read the Para-powerlifting Classification Information Sheet (updated Nov 2019).

How do I get classified?
Athletes can request a classification using the Get Involved and Get Classified registration form.

Classification Masterlist
Athletes who have been nationally or internationally classified as per the IPC’s Classification Rules or Paralympics Australia’s Classification Policy are automatically included in the Classification Masterlist for Para-powerlifting in Australia.

Rules & Equipment

For discs to be approved for competition, World Para-powerlifting requires:

  • All discs must weigh within 0.25% of their face value
  • The size of the hole in the middle of each disc must be more than 52mm and less than 53mm
  • Each disc must weigh 1.25kg, 2.5kg, 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg or 25kg
  • For record purposes, lighter discs may be used to achieve a weight that is at least 500g more than the existing record
  • Discs must conform to the following colour code –
Weight Colour
25kg Red
20kg Blue
15kg Yellow
10kg or under Any colour
  • All discs must be clearly marked with their weight and loaded in descending weight order (i.e. the heaviest disc must be loaded first)
  • The first (and heaviest) disc loaded on the bar must be loaded face-first; the remaining discs must be loaded face-out
  • The diameter of the largest disc must not exceed 450mm

A collar weighing 2.5kg must be worn by all athletes during their lifts.

Athletes compete lying on a bench that is 2.1m long and 61cm wide. At its most narrow, towards the head, the bench is 30cm wide. The height of the bench varies from 45cm to 50cm.

Medal History

Year Gold Silver Bronze total
1964 0 3 0 3
1968 1 0 0 1
1972 1 0 0 1
1976 1 0 1 2
1980 0 0 2 2
1988 0 1 2 3
1992 1 0 0 1
1996 0 1 0 1
2000 0 1 0 1
2004 0 1 0 1
2008 0 1 0 1


We encourage those wishing to explore Para-powerlifting to contact their state federation in the first instance. The national federation link below provides information on the national high performance program leading to competing internationally and at the Paralympic Games.

National Federation
Organisation Website
Powerlifting Australia
State Federations
State Organisation Website
QLD Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association



Click to see profile
Meet the 2016 Paralympic Para-powerlifting Team