Parapan American Games Offer U.S. Athletes Key Opportunity For Paris 2024 Qualifying Lifts

by Luke Hanlon

Jake Herbert prepares for a lift. (Photo by World Para Powerlifting)

For American powerlifters, the final push to qualify for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024 starts this month at the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile.

The Parapan Ams kick off on Nov. 17, and powerlifting competitions run Nov. 18-21, with individual competitions leading up to mixed team events on the final day.

Qualification to the Paris Games is based upon the athletes’ heaviest lift, with the top eight in each weight class earning a spot in the Paralympics. While there are still six world cup events in 2024 where athletes can improve upon their best lift, the Parapan Am Games serve as an early opportunity for U.S. athletes to see where they measure up.

An estimated 2,200 athletes from throughout the Americas will be competing in Santiago. The United States is sending 240 athletes, with six of them competing in powerlifting.

Here’s a look at the six U.S. powerlifters who will represent the U.S. at the Parapan Ams.

Bobby Body

Body is one of the three powerlifters competing in Santiago who also represented the U.S. at the world championships in Dubai, UAE, in August. The 49-year-old delivered the biggest highlight for the U.S. at worlds, as his lone successful lift of 210 kg. nonetheless earned him a pair of silver medals in the men’s 107 kg. legends division, which is for athletes 45 and older.

The Fremont, Michigan, native’s best lift this year was 217 kg. at a world cup event this past June. That mark is good enough for 10th in the 107 kg. weight class and just 3 kg. away from putting him in the top eight. Body will get a chance to crack into the group when he competes on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Ashley Dyce

An injury has kept Dyce out of competitions in 2023, so she’s aiming to break into the world rankings with a strong performance in Santiago. History shows she could be in the mix. Back in 2022, her best lift of 115 kg. put her 12th in the world in the women’s over 86 kg. class.

Given this is her first competition in more than a year, it may take some time before Dyce is back to her best form. But the 36-year-old from Colton, California, won’t be intimidated by the international stage, as she’s competed in three world championships, with her best finish being 12th place in 2021. Dyce is set to compete on Monday, Nov. 20.

Jake Herbert

Herbert competed at the world championships in Dubai and finished in 16th for his total lift and 19th for his best lift in the men’s 59 kg. class. The 31-year-old’s best lift of 146 kg. was the most he lifted in 2023, ranking him 22nd in his weight class.

Dubai was the second time Herbert has competed on the world stage. The Indianapolis native placed 19th in best lift in 2017. Herbert will get the chance to compete in Santiago right away, as the men’s 59 kg. class lifts on Saturday Nov. 18.

David Horvath

At 23, Horvath is the youngest member of the U.S. team. Unsurprisingly, Horvath also has the least experience, as he’ll be competing on the international stage for the first time.

The native of Linn, Missouri, broke on to the powerlifting scene when he won two silver medals at the 2022 World Para Powerlifting Parapan American Open in St. Louis. His best lift in the competition was 133 kg., which was good enough to rank him 26th in the men’s 59 kg. class in 2022. If he can complete a lift like that on Saturday, he has a chance to earn a world ranking for 2023.

Garrison Redd

Redd played a significant role at this year’s world championships before he even lifted any weights, as he served as Team USA’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony. The 35-year-old finished in 22nd in best lift and 24th in total lift in the men’s 65 kg. class. Dubai was his second appearance at a world championships. The New York native placed 26th in best lift in 2021.

Redd’s best lift of the year came in June at a world cup event in Mexico, when he put up 130 kg. to put him 32nd in his weight class. He’ll have to wait longer than his teammates to improve that, as the men’s 65 kg. is the last weight class to compete on Monday.

Ahmed Shafik

Shafik brings by far the most experience into the Parapan Ams of the six American powerlifters. Not only is Shafik the only athlete on the roster who’s competed at the Parapan Ams before — winning a silver in 2019 and a bronze in 2011 — but the 50-year-old is also the only member of the U.S. team with Paralympic experience. Shafik competed at the 2012 and 2016 Games, with his best finish being seventh place in Rio.

Born in Iraq, Shafik now resides in Tucson, Arizona, and has been competing for Team USA since the 2010 world championships. The 2021 world championships were his fifth, and he placed 13th in best lift in the men’s 88 kg. class. Like Dyce, Shafik has yet to compete in 2023 due to injury. He’ll finally get the chance to earn a world ranking this year on Monday.

Luke Hanlon is a sportswriter and editor based in Minneapolis. He is a freelance contributor to courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.