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Breaking Barriers: British Powerlifting x BWL Bench Press Championships Celebrate Inclusivity

On Saturday, 19 May, Newark hosted a ground-breaking event in the world of strength sports: the first-ever British Powerlifting x British Weight Lifting (BWL) Bench Press Championships.

Breaking Barriers: British Powerlifting x BWL Bench Press Championships Celebrate Inclusivity

This competition was not only a showcase of immense physical strength and dedication but also a celebration of inclusivity and sportsmanship. For the first time, able-bodied and disabled athletes competed alongside each other, demonstrating that the spirit of competition and the pursuit of excellence know no boundaries.

The championship brought together a diverse group of 32 lifters, including Para Powerlifters, Equipped Lifters, and Powerlifters, each pushing their limits and redefining what is possible. This made it a landmark event in the history of strength sports.

James Brincat-Smith, CEO of British Powerlifting, emphasised the event's significance to the powerlifting community and him personally: “This weekend saw what we hope, as a federation, the first of many collaborations with British Weight Lifting Para Bench Press. Having come from a background with a disabled parent being treated differently by society, for me this challenge was more about every athlete being treated the same regardless of their physical make-up."

He also spoke about the event's long-term impact: “We at British Powerlifting hope it serves to inspire all levels of athletes, from beginners to the more experienced, and in doing so both federations can further strengthen their international prospects.”

Ben Richens, BWL’s Lead Performance and Para Powerlifting Coach, also shared his thoughts on the event and expressed his gratitude: “It is an important step forward in raising awareness, inclusivity, and the opportunity to compete in Para Powerlifting more widely in Great Britain. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the planning of this and all of the lifters who took part.”

The event proved to be a resounding success, with athletes thoroughly enjoying themselves and giving overwhelmingly positive feedback. According to the CEO, athletes were eager to compete again in a similar environment, with the most asked question being, “When can we do this again?”

Among the standout performers were Para Powerlifter Sean Clare, who claimed the title of Best Male Lifter of the event, and Equipped Lifter Siobhan Taylor, earning the distinction of Best Female Lifter. Sean Clare’s victory was an incredible achievement, competing in the under 66 kg category with a bench total of 150 kg. His triumph underscored the limitless potential of hard work, proving that physical challenges are no barrier to excellence in sports. Siobhan Taylor, equally inspiring, earned the Best Female Lifter title, competing in the 84+ kg category, with a bench total of 170 kg, showcasing her remarkable skill and dedication to the sport.

The success of the first British Powerlifting and British Weight Lifting Bench Press Championships has set a powerful precedent for future events. As James Brincat-Smith eloquently stated, "So, with this proof-of-concept event over, we now look to the future and with meetings already in the diary to schedule a further event later in the year. It is our hope that having proved the model, we can engage with a wider selection of athletes, and I personally, along with the whole board of Directors for British Powerlifting, amazing officers, volunteers, families, and supporters of our athletes, are very excited to see where this journey will take us.”

This first event has not only showcased remarkable talent but has also paved the way for a more inclusive and united future in strength sports. Athletes of all abilities can compete and inspire together.




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