IPC Powerlifting has announced the host cities for three major regional Championships which will take place in 2015 and will act as major stepping stones on the road to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The first regional Championships of the year will be the first ever Americas Open Championships which will be staged in Guadalajara, Mexico, between 25-29 April. It will serve as a qualifying event for August's Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
The Asian Open Championships will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 26-30 July, for what will be the first IPC Powerlifting competition in the country, whilst the European Championships will be staged in Eger, Hungary, 24-28 November.
All three competitions will be open to all countries to ensure athletes have as many opportunities as possible to qualify for Rio 2016.
A trial change to the number of athletes countries can enter will mean that National Paralympic Committees can submit a maximum of 15 male and 15 female lifters spread across the 10 weight categories in both junior and senior competitions. However, there still must not be more than two competitors from any particular country in a single event.
A dedicated event website for the European Championships has been launched at www.eger2015.com, while websites for Almaty and Guadalajara will be produced shortly. In addition, www.ipc-powerlifting.org has also been given a new look ahead of the forthcoming season.
Jorge Moreno, IPC Powerlifting Sport Manager said "After such a successful World Championships in Dubai, UAE, in April, we are delighted to be holding these events in the year before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
"The best athletes in the world will be looking to put in top performances and test themselves once again against their closest competition. We also hope that countries will bring through new talent via the trial increases in athlete numbers.
"We are really pleased to be able to hold for the first time the Americas Championships in a city which successfully staged the 2011 Parapan American Games.
"This new event will help complement the European and Asian Championships which have been on the calendar for some years, and increasing the number of high level competition opportunities for all athletes."
Zsolt Gömöri, President of the Hungarian Paralympic Committee, said: "It is a great honour for us to be elected as host country of the 2015 IPC Powerlifting European Championships. We feel very privileged to organise this outstanding event in our Paralympic Centre in the Hungarian town of Eger.
"Our local organising team has the experience of hosting high level international events since 2010 and are deeply committed to welcome and serve the participants and guests of the European Championships on a high standard."
Pablo Larraga, President of the Mexican Paralympic Committee said: "Guadalajara is excited to welcome athletes and their delegations from all the countries around the world.
"Due to the great impact and experience obtained during the organisation of the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games, the Mexican Paralympic Committee selected Guadalajara as the host city for the first IPC Powerlifting Americas Open Championships.
"We feel privileged that the competition will be held in Mexico and we look forward to welcome you with open arms to celebrate together this great Fiesta in Guadalajara!"
The 2014 IPC Powerlifting World Championships held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this April attracted 330 athletes from 60 countries, the most ever.
At the 2013 IPC Powerlifting Asian Open Championships, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 3-7 November, around 200 athletes from 30 countries gathered to break a total of ten world records ahead of the World Championships.
The 2013 IPC Powerlifting European Open Championships in Aleksin, Russia from 22-26 May saw the host nation topping the medals table with 18 medals, including 11 golds.