Debuted as Weightlifting at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, the sport now known as Powerlifting, has expanded from male lifters with a spinal cord injury to include female lifters and athletes with physical impairments that affect their lower body mobility. Athletes with short stature have also been included since.
Powerlifting is made up of only one discipline, that is, the bench press. Unlike the able-bodied counterpart where athletes place their feet on the floor to assist the bench press, the para-edition has athletes lie totally flat on a different style of bench.
In a competition, each athlete has three attempts and two minutes to complete their attempt. First, the lifter has to have the bar under full control before they can receive the command to start. Next, the bar has to be lowered in a controlled manner and stopped on the chest, after which, they press it back upward, locking out both elbows simultaneously. For a successful attempt, the athletes must be able hold the bar under control under the referees command to rack; at least two white lights must be lit (from 3 different referees) for a good lift. A red light indicates a bad lift.
In the third round, 2 weight changes are permitted—this change can be higher or lower. Athletes are not given this privilege if they have already been called to the platform by the announcer, and/or if the bar has already been loaded.
To attempt a new record, the weight must exceed the previous one by a minimum of 0.5kg. Where a world record is broken within the 3 attempts allowed at the competition, the 0.5kg does not count towards the totalled weight lift but is rounded down to the full kilogram.
Powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength, and its athletes are often shown to be able to lift more than three times their own body weight. Hence, the athlete that lifts the heaviest weight is crowned the winner. However, there is an exception to the “heaviest weight lifted.”
At the jury’s discretion, they may allow a fourth attempt for a world record. This means that the lifter could break the world record but may not win gold. This adds suspense to the competition as athletes compete beyond the three official attempts.
Furthermore, there is also more to powerlifting than just weightlifting. Coaches and athletes both have to be good strategists as they work together to out-lift their opponents.