Competition at the Highest Levels



Powerlifting is an intense, muscle-heavy sport, where athletes can lift more than three times their own weight. It became part of the second Paralympics in 1964, and was known then as “weightlifting.”

In the earliest competitions, only men with spinal injuries could participate. Now powerlifting is a contest for both male and female athletes, separated into ten different weight classes, and it is open to athletes with various disabilities such as cerebral palsy or stroke, lower limb amputation, spinal injury, or dwarfism. Athletes are divided only by weight categories, not by disability.

A test of upper body strength, powerlifting requires the athlete to lower the bar to his or her chest, hold it motionless, then thrust it upwards. A lift is counted if the athlete extends his/her arms within 20 degrees of a full extension. The winner is the athlete who lifts the most weight in one of his/her three attempts.

Top Contenders:
• In 2008, China and Egypt dominated this backbreaking sport. China won 14 medals, including 9 golds, and Egypt won 10 medals.
• Siamand Rahman of Iran holds the world record. Competing in 2010 – at the age of 22 – in the “over 100 kg” weight category, he lifted 290 kg. His goal, he says, is to become the first person to lift 400 kg.
• USA last medaled at the Paralympics in 2000, when Pernell Cooper and Kim Brownfield won gold and silver in the Men’s Over 100 kg event. But U.S. athletes took home medals at the 2010 World Championships and the 2011 Parapan American Games.

Paralympics 2012 Competition: Aug. 30 – Sept. 5

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