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Missouri athletes set sights on Paralympics and powerlifting gold

A para powerlifter lifits a weight above his head from a supine position.
Logan University
Para powerlifters are gathering at Logan University in July to compete for a chance to advance to the Paralympic Games.

A major competition on the path to the 2024 Paralympic Games lands at Logan University in Chesterfield next month — and Missouri powerlifters are ready to compete for their chance to lift medals in Paris in 2024.

From July 8-11, the World Para Powerlifting Parapan American Open Championships will attract athletes from across North and South America, including U.S. competitors. St. Louis is the first American city to host an international Para powerlifting competition in 15 years.

“All of our strength can only come from just the chest, because of the fact that our legs are not being used as a counterbalance,” David Horvath, a member of Team USA and a Lindenwood University student, told St. Louis on the Air on Monday. Horvath was born with spina bifida.

"It's all on our chests: to get the entirety of the weight up, and then pause,” he said. “It's reliant on pure strength.”

But there’s more than just raw power needed to push, and hold, hundreds of pounds above one’s body. Brett Forbes, a high school student in St. Francois County, said that his football coach built a special “para bench” so the teen could train.

Like Horvath, Forbes was born with spina bifida. Both young athletes hope their performances will put them on the path toward the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024 — though they’ll have to keep winning if they want a shot at the podium and gold medal.

That includes the World Para Powerlifting Parapan American Open Championships at Logan University, beginning July 8.

“It feels great to be able to take part in it,” Forbes said on Monday. “The amount of technique you need for it is incredibly tough. But that's what we trained for.”

Related Events
What: 2022 World Para Powerlifting Parapan American Open Championships
When: July 8-11
Where: 1851 Schoettler Road, Chesterfield, MO 63017

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."