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Team Navy Road to the Warrior Games Featured Sport: Powerlifting

WASHINGTON -- In this series, we will explore each of the twelve sports that will be featured during the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games: archery, cycling, field, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting (precision air sports), sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.

Para-powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. You’ll often see athletes lifting more than their own body weight. Such capabilities were seen in the iconic lift of the late Iranian Siamand Rahman, the only Para powerlifter who has surpassed 300kg, roughly 661 pounds.


From the sport’s Paralympic Games history to explaining the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting, here is a list of four facts to know.

  1. Sport Origin and Paralympics History: Powerlifting is one of the Paralympic Movement’s fastest growing sports in terms of participation. Although weightlifting made its Paralympic debut at Tokyo 1964, it was not until the 1984 Games that powerlifting was first included as a Paralympic sport. Initially the sport only catered for male athletes with a spinal cord injury, but in the years that followed the sport began to include male and female athletes with physical impairments that affect their lower limbs or hips and athletes with short stature.

    Unlike the able-bodied sport where athletes use their feet on the floor to assist the bench press, Paralympic athletes lie completely flat and even on a different style of bench.

  2. Warrior Games Competition Style: During the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games, powerlifting is comprised of one major event: a bench press. In powerlifting, athletes assume a supine position on a specially designed bench, and after taking/receiving the bar at arms-length, the lifter shall wait with locked elbows and the bar under control for the Referee's signal.

    After receiving the signal "start", the lifter must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless/still on the chest and then press it upwards evenly, with an even equal extension of both the arms with locked elbows. When held motionless and controlled in this position, the audible signal "rack" shall be given and the bar is returned to the rack.

    An immediate decision is given by the referees through a system of white and red lights. Two or more white lights signify a good lift and two or more red lifts reflect a no lift. Each athlete has three attempts to achieve their best lift.

  3. Powerlifting Classification: Powerlifters are split in fourteen different categories based on their bodyweight and gender.

  4. Weightlifting vs Powerlifting – What’s the Difference?: At first glance, the major difference between powerlifting and weightlifting is the execution. Depending on the competition style, powerlifting uses the squat, bench, or deadlift method. Whereas, weightlifting uses the snatch or clean and jerk methods, which results in lifting the bar vertically over the athlete’s head. Additionally, speed of execution is different. Weightlifting is typically done quickly, while power lifts are performed at a somewhat slower tempo.


Follow along on Team Navy's Road to the Warrior Games on the official Team Navy webpageFacebook, and Instagram, and join us in cheering for the team at the DoD Warrior Games!


Article originally published on June 28, 2021 | Story by Megan Trexler | Commander, Navy Installations Command


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