This article will be the first of two covering the top lifters competing at the World Classic Championships this year. Lifting has already begun in Minsk, Belarus, with the masters and juniors having started on June 15th, and the Open categories kicking off on Wednesday 21st June. We’ll be looking at the likely medalists and underdogs in each of the 15 weightclasses.

Women 47kg

Hanna Rantala

Hanna Rantala of Finland posted a blazing total of 380kg at the Finnish National Championships earlier this year. Placing 4th in 2015 and 3rd in 2016, this may finally be Hanna’s year to take the gold medal. The Finnish personal trainer also totalled 370kg at the European National Championships earlier this year in the 52kg class. Managing to add 10kg on to her total while also dropping back down to the 47’s shows immense progress since she totaled 343kg at the World Championships last year, and is a hot contender in the 47kg class.

 

Heather Connor

After competing in the World Championships and placing 2nd last year, Heather re-established herself as the dominant 47kg lifter in America at the USAPL Raw Nationals 2016, winning the weightclass by a whopping 44.5kg and 61 Wilks points over the next lifter. Here she posted American records in the squat (130.5kg), bench press (70.5kg), deadlift (167.5kg) and total (369.5kg). The personal trainer out of North Carolina missed her third attempt deadlift (178kg) at World’s last year which would have otherwise given her the win. Since the Raw Nationals, Heather broke the 47kg world record deadlift with a 175.5kg pull and improved her best total to 375.5kg, only 4.5kg less than Hanna Rantala’s performance at the Finnish Nationals. It will be Heather’s final deadlift that will determine if she wins the world title or takes silver medal, and we can’t wait to see what happens.

Kristine Almroth

Swedish lifter Kristine Almroth is another huge contender for the gold medal, nominated only 5.5kg behind Heather and 10kg behind Hanna. Competing at the World Equipped Juniors in the 57kg class earlier in her career, Kristine made her debut Raw appearance this year at the European Classic Championships, winning the gold medal in the Open 47kg class with a blistering 370kg total. Kristine’s training numbers indicate she’s going to greatly exceed her numbers from the European’s, indicating she’ll be giving the more experienced Raw competitors a run for their money. Regardless of who comes out on top, the top three 47kg competitors will be edging closer to Wei-Ling Chen’s 47kg total world record (407.5kg), who hasn’t returned to the Raw powerlifting scene since she set the record at the 2015 World Classic Championships in Salo, Finland.

Men 59kg

Sergey Fedosienko

Powerlifting veteran and multiple time world champion Sergey Fedosienko is back to defend his 59kg championship title. Last year he set world records in all three disciplines and the total with a 227.5kg squat, 171kg bench press, 271kg deadlift, and 669.5kg total. Since then, Sergey posted insane training numbers, including a 300kg deadlift (29kg over his world record) and 180kg 2x2 bench (9kg over his world record). Sergey will not only dominate his weightclass, but most likely take the top overall male lifter title by Wilks score once again.

Dariusz Wszola

2017’s European Classic Champion, Dariusz Wszola, will attempt to take the silver medal from Franklin after he came 3rd next to him last year, losing by 10kg in the total. The polish lifter has very similar numbers to Franklin, out-benching him by 10-15kg, but is outclassed slightly on deadlift strength. It will ultimately be Franklin’s deadlift that has the final say for the silver medal.

Franklin Leon

Battling it out for 2nd place will be Franklin Leon of Ecuador and Dariusz Wszola of Poland. Franklin Leon placed 2nd in the 59kg class in both 2014 and 2016, and will attempt to take his spot again. Franklin is over 80kg behind Sergey in the nominations, so doesn’t have much of a chance to win, however he’ll do his best to maximise his total with his big squat. Last year he squatted 222.5kg last year, only 5kg behind Sergey’s.

Women 52kg

Marisa Inda

This stacked weightclass has American lifter Marisa Inda leading the nominations. Known for being the only Powerlifting to appear on the Ellen Show (displaying her calisthenics strength) this multi-talented mother put on her best performance yet at the Arnold Classic earlier this year, with a new 52kg world record total of 430kg. This beat Elizabeth Craven’s 424kg record by 6kg, making Marisa the one to beat leading into the World Championships. She placed 5th last year after missing her final deadlift (182.5kg), which would have given her the bronze medal. Marisa has made amazing progress in the last year, but she’ll need to perform her best if she wants to take gold.

Liz Craven

Liz Craven is Australia’s top powerlifter by Wilks score. Nominated 2nd behind Marisa, this shows just how competitive this weightclass is. Liz came 3rd at the World Classic Championships last year, and has since set a new world record squat at the Pacific Invitation competition in Sydney this year (155.5kg). Since then, Liz hit an 87.5kg bench in training (2.5kg over her competition best) and a very fast 185kg deadlift (matching her competition best), showing promise for her performance at the World’s to take the top spot.

Olga Golubeva

Russian lifter Olga Golubeva beat both Liz and Marisa at the World Championships last year with her 412.5kg total, placing 2nd. After winning the 52kg class at the European Classic Championships this year with a 425kg total, Olga is a hot contender for the gold. Olga will make up most of her ground with her huge bench press, which is 10kg higher than Marisa’s best and 17.5kg higher than Liz’s best, forcing the other two to try and out-deadlift her. With the top three lifters so close together, this is arguably the most heated women’s weightclass.

Men 66kg

Sergey Gladkikh

Reigning champion Sergey Gladkikh of Russia is the 66kg lifter to beat at the World Classic Championships in Belarus this year. 2016 was Sergey’s first year competing at the Classic World’s after a history of multiple equipped world and European championship titles. After bursting on the raw scene last year, Sergey won the weightclass with a 245kg squat, 160kg bench press, 265kg deadlift, and 670kg world record total.

Stephen Cascioli

Canadian lifter Stephen Cascioli missed out on a medal spot at World’s in 2016, placing up 4th. Despite this, Stephen set a new 66kg squat world record with 245.5kg in the process. Since then, Stephen re-broke the world record at the Arnold Classic in March this year with a 248kg squat before getting chipped by USA Junior lifter Sawyer Yandell (who squatted 248.5kg). Adding on 15kg to his best competition deadlift at the Arnold, Stephen is now a prime contender to take the gold medal overall, and will also have the opportunity to re-claim his squat world record.

Alexander Kolbin

Behind Stephen by only 2.5kg in the nominations is Alexander Kolbin, the second Russian lifter nominated in the top three spots of this weightclass. This is Kolbin’s first international competition as a 66kg lifter after a long history of competing in the 59’s. Kolbin placed 2nd at the World Classic Championships in 2015 behind fellow Russian lifter Sergey Fedosienko, and skipped World’s in 2016 as he made the transition to the 66kg class. We’ll soon find out if his recent weight gain from has paid off.

Women 57kg

Maria Htee

Maria Htee of Canada leads the 57kg nominations. She weighed in slightly too heavy for the 57kg class (57.28kg) at the Arnold Classic earlier this year, but proceeded to put on an earth-shattering performance in the 63’s. She came away with a 468.5kg total, including a 181kg squat, only 1.5kg behind the 63kg world record. This gave her a massive 541 Wilks score, the third highest raw Wilks in IPF history. Ten days later, Maria won the 57kg class at the CPU Raw Nationals with a 459.5kg total. If her performance at the Arnold was anything to go by, Maria is absolutely the favorite to win the weightclass and the best overall female lifter title by Wilks score.

Kenia Monserrate

57kg Junior World Champion from 2014, Kenia Monserrate competed in her first Open Classic World Championship last year and placed 4th, missing out on the podium position by 7.5kg. The lifter from Ecuador will need to perform her best if she wants to take the podium position this year with the standard so high.

Jennifer Millican

Mother of two with a full-time job, Jennifer Millican out of Tennessee is a contender to Maria for the gold medal. New to the Powerlifting scene, Jennifer not only won her first USAPL Raw National competition upon entering, but also took overall best female lifter by Wilks. Now attending her second international competition after the Arnold Classic in March this year, Jennifer will need to take her 450kg total to new heights if she wants to beat Maria Htee.

Hui-Chun Wu

Silver medalist from the World Championships 2015 and 2016, Hui Chun Wu is nominated 3rd with her 440kg total. With newcomer to the World Championships Maria Htee now on the scene, the Chinese Taipei lifter can’t leave any kilos on the platform if she wants to maintain her second-place position from last year, or even take gold.

Inna Filimonova

Inna Filimonova has won the 57kg World Championships three times in a row, in 2014, 2015 and 2016. This year she’s nominated 5th, which shows just how much the standard has raised in this weightclass. However, her 420kg nominated total does not reflect her true capabilities. Last year she won the World Championships in Killeen with a 444kg total, and has since been seen deadlifting 187.5kg at a local competition (compared to her 185kg in Killeen). The Russian lifter will be looking to take the gold medal for the fourth year in a row.

Men 74kg

Kjell Egil Bakkelund

Kjell Egil Bakkelund of Norway is a seasoned equipped lifter in the 83kg class, with multiple world and European championship titles to his name. Now he’s dropped down to the 74kg class and is competing Raw internationally for the first time. With huge Raw numbers such as a 252.5kg squat, 192.5kg bench, and 317.5kg deadlift, Kjell is not one to be underestimated in this weightclass.

Yoshihiro Higa

Japanese lifter Yoshihiro Higa will be making his international competition debut in Belarus as a top contender for the gold medal in the 74kg class. Seemingly out of the blue, Yoshihiro burst on the scene and squatted an unofficial 74kg world record of 270kg at the Japanese Raw Nationals 2017, 9.5kg over the current world record. He went on to total 725kg, benching 152.5kg and deadlifting 302.5kg. He’ll have his eye set on turning his immense squat strength into an official world record and will want nothing less than a gold medal in the 74kg class.

Taylor Atwood

Taylor missed out on the 74kg world record total and championship title last year after missing his final deadlift (290kg) for soft knees at the top, leaving him with a silver medal. The American lifter then won the 74kg class at USAPL Raw Nationals once again at the end of 2016 with a 725kg total, 2.5kg more than what he hit at World’s earlier that year. Keeping his injuries at bay which impacted his performance at World’s 2016, Taylor will want the gold medal and nothing less.

Owen Hubbard

Dropping down to the 74kg class after placing 3rd in the 83’s at World’s in 2016, Owen Hubbard has moved from one stacked weightclass to another for the World Championships this year. The British lifter posted a 700kg total in February at a divisional competition, and has since posted promising training numbers including 237.5kg squat singles and a 196kg bench. Famous for his big bench and intensity when lifting, Owen will need to summon all the strength he can get in this very competitive weightclass to be in with a chance of winning (or medalling).

Yakov Ionin

Kazakhstani lifter Yakov Ionin is nominated fourth in the 74kg weightclass with his 720kg total from the Kazakhstan Raw Nationals, only 5kg behind Taylor Atwood and Yoshiro Higa, and 10kg behind Kjell Egil Bakkelund. Although absent last year, Yakov placed 4th at the 2015 World Classic Championships in Finland, totalling 680kg. Adding 40kg in this time makes Yakov a lifter not to underestimate in this weightclass; he could well come away with the win.

Women 63kg

Maria Dubenskaya

Russian lifter Maria Dubenskaya is nominated first with her 481kg total in the 63kg class, which is only 5kg behind Jennifer Thompson’s world record (who unfortunately is not attending this year). After placing 5th last year with a 437.5kg total, Maria has made tremendous strength gains over the last year, and will be after the gold medal.

Christine Castro

Nominated 3rd is Canadian lifter Christine Castro, who won her first CPU Raw National Championship this year, beating reigning 63kg CPU champion Teresa Parsons. Here she pulled a huge 198kg deadlift to take the win, also setting a new Canadian record in the 63kg class. Since then, Christine posted a 458kg total at a local Canadian competition, squatting 172.5kg, benching 87.5kg and deadlifting 187.5kg. This is her first time competing internationally, let alone at the World Championships, and she is sure to make a name for herself as a very competitive 63kg lifter.

Ivana Horna

After placing 2nd to Jennifer Thompson in 2016, and 6th in 2016, this could finally be the year Ivana Horna wins the championship title in the 63kg class. The Slovakian lifter won the European Classic Championships this year with a 477.5kg total, putting her only 3.5kg away from Maria’s best total. Ivana is a big deadlifter, setting a new personal best of 215kg at the European Championships. Ivana and Maria will go head to head to take gold, where Ivana will have the final say in her final pull to win.