Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the USA Powerlifting will include four new divisions to its organization — the Adaptive Athlete Division, the MX Division, Para Bench Division, and Raw With Wraps Division. The announcement was made on the USAPL’s website on Dec. 21, 2020. Here’s a breakdown of each division in more detail:
Adaptive Athlete Division
According to the USAPL, this category is for athletes who “are unable to adhere to 100% of the technical rules of performance as defined in the USA Powerlifting rulebook and would therefore be ineligible to compete.” Examples include the amputation of limbs/fingers/toes, the inability to extend the elbows or knees fully, or to grasp the bar, to name a few.
This new division is for lifters of all gender identities to compete across 14 weight classes in the Sub-Junior, Junior, Open, and Masters I-IV age divisions. This division follows the same rules and will be held to the same anti-doping standards as all other categories. The USAPL also said that MX athletes will compete in Nationals starting in 2022, which will provide them with a clear path to represent the USA internationally.
The USAPL’s MX category will adhere to the same weight classes as the LGBT International Powerlifting Championships (LGBT IPC) MX category, which launched the first-ever MX third gender category in 2018. Following this announcement, the LGBT Powerlifting Union replied with a statement:
“We are encouraged to see that USA Powerlifting has now started to consider Transgender, Non-Binary athletes and Intersex athletes, but are disappointed that they have chosen to miss an opportunity to engage with the IOC Guidance over Trans participation,” the statement reads.
“The LGBT Powerlifting Union are pleased to be in communication and dialogue with USA Powerlifting over LGBT+ issues and will continue to represent all sections of the LGBT+ community within any further dialogue and discussions with USA Powerlifting and other mainstream federations.”
With the addition of their MX category, the USAPL is now one of 37 organizations for LGBT+ athletes to compete,” according to the LGBT IPC’s international directory.
Para Bench Division
The USAPL consulted with the US Para Powerlifting organization and is now introducing a para bench division of its own.
“The Para Bench category is open to male and female athletes with one or more of the eight eligible physical impairments, as defined by World Para Powerlifting if these impairments have a certain severity that impacts sport performance,” The USAPL writes.
Raw With Wraps Division
Athletes in this division will adhere to the same rules as the USAPL’s Raw division, except that they can wear knee wraps. Lifters competing in Raw With Wraps can qualify for Open (Equipped) Nationals, but not Raw Nationals. However, there will not be a separate Raw With Wraps division offered at Open (Equipped) Nationals.