This article is the second covering the 2017 IPF World Classic Championships in Minsk, Belarus. We’ll be highlighting the top names to look out for in each of the Open weightclasses and what to expect. Part one covered female weightclasses 47kg – 63kg, and men’s 59kg – 74kg; this part will cover the rest.
Last year, Brett Gibbs took on Owen Hubbard and John Haack in one of the most hyped Powerlifting events ever, missing out on the gold medal failing his final deadlift. Now, with Haack temporarily exempt from IPF international competition and Hubbard down in the 74’s, Brett is left to dominate his weightclass, nominated over 40kg ahead of the next lifter. Earlier this year Brett totaled 814kg at the Pacific Invitational in Sydney, chipping John Haack’s 813kg world record which he set at World’s in 2016. Here he squatted a personal best of 292.5kg, benched 200kg, and deadlifted what was a new world record of 321.5kg. In training, Brett has also squatted 302.5kg and benched 217.5kg, setting himself up for some huge numbers to come in Minsk, Belarus. He’ll not only have his eye on the gold medal, but will want to take all four open world records, which are all in reach.
Though he’s a fair way behind Brett, Alexey Kuzmin’s numbers are nothing to laugh at. Alexey posted a 274kg squat, 180kg bench and 310kg deadlift, totaling 764kg, at a Russian competition. This was an 8.5kg increase from his last international competition back in March 2016 at the European Classic Championships, and sets him up to take 2nd place.
Undoubtedly the favorite to win the 72kg class, Kimberly Walford is a force to be reckoned with in Powerlifting, winning every World Classic Championship she’s attended in the last five years (three as a 72kg lifter, two as a 63kg). Not only that, but Kimberly was the top overall lifter by Wilks score in 2013 and 2014, and has been 2nd in 2015 & 2016. The American is famous for her immense deadlift, giving her the final say on who wins the class. She currently holds the 72kg world record deadlift and total with 243kg and 540kg respectively. Insane numbers. Kimberly will be looking to extend her world records, rank as highly as possible by Wilks, and most importantly maintain her championship title.
Isabella von Weissenberg
Arguably the most intense female lifter in the IPF, Isabella von Weissenberg has had a great few years of lifting. Last year at the World Championships, she set a new squat world record of 188kg, which she then extended earlier this year at the European Championships with 192.5kg, totaling 495kg. This year at the World’s, she’ll be looking to extend her squat world record closer (or above) the big 200kg milestone, and push her total to 500kg or more. In a few years’ time this lifter could well take the World Championship title in the 72kg class.
Brazilian lifter Ana Castellain is a seasoned lifter in both raw and equipped in the 72kg and 84kg weightclasses. In 2014, she faced front runner Kimberly Walford in the 72’s, getting beaten by only 2kg on Kimberly’s final deadlift. In 2016, Ana won her first World Classic Championships in the 84kg class and won the Equipped World Open Championships in the 72’s. With her winning streak at her all-time best, you can bet she’s back in the 72’s with the intention of taking gold and nothing less. Her nominated total may be 18kg behind Kimberly, but if her progress is anything to go by, it will be neck and neck between these two.
Anatolii Novopismennyi won the 93kg Junior World Championship 2016 title with ease in his first World’s competition. This year, the still-Junior lifter has stepped up to the plate to compete in the Opens, and is a front runner for the gold medal. Anatolii has done this for good reason, he’s nominated first with his 843kg total, which is only 4.5kg below Krzysztof Wierzbicki’s world record total. The Ukranian is not only a contender for gold, but is likely to beat Krzysztof’s massive world record total.
Absent from the World Championships last year, Yerlan Smagulov won the 93kg Junior title in 2015. The Kazakhstani lifter has since added a huge 55kg to his total and is neck and neck with Anatolii, separated by only a 3kg difference in their totals. This will be a very close race between the two lifters, decided on the deadlifts.
Fifty-eight-year-old David Ricks is a Powerlifting legend. Previously an established equipped lifter, Ricks has taken the Raw Powerlifting scene by storm in the last few years. The Masters 2 American lifter currently holds the 93kg Open world record squat with 325.5kg which he set at the Pacific Invitational competition earlier this year, breaking his own previous world record. David defies pre-conceived ideas about longevity in the sport and what is considered the prime age for lifters, and will continue to do so, more than likely medalling at the World Championships this year. His lifting is always a spectacle to behold.
Behind David Ricks is fellow Team USA member LS McClain. LS is phenomenal bench presser, recently placing 2nd at the World Classic Bench Press Championships with a 230kg press, missing out on the top spot by only 2.5kg. LS will have his eye set on beating the 93kg bench world record of 232.5kg and making it on to the podium in the total.
Ielja Strik placed 2nd at the World Championships last year next to Ana Castellain. However, with Ana now in the 72kg class, Ielja leads the nominations and is the favorite to take the World title. The Dutch lifter won the 84kg class in both 2014 and 2015, and posted a new best raw total at the European Championships this year with 537.5kg, which is currently the world record. Ielja also holds the squat (206kg) and bench press (136.5kg) world records.
Canadian lifter Sara Cowan made her first international Powerlifting appearance last year, winning the 84kg Junior World Championship title, 90kg ahead of the next lifter. Posting a 528kg total at the CPU Raw Nationals in February, Sara is just under 10kg away from Ielja Strik’s performance at the European Championships. Even with solid training numbers, Sara will need to perform her best if she wants to challenge the seasoned Dutch lifter.
Krzysztof Wierzbicki, a.k.a “Mr. Deadlift,” is competing in the 105kg class at the World Championships for the first time. After winning the 93kg World Champion title three times in row (2013, 2014 and 2015), Wierzbicki had a poor performance last year (by his standard), placing fourth. Since choosing to move up to the 105kg class, the Polish lifter shocked the scene setting a new 105kg world record total (890kg) in March at the European Classic Championships, including a 390kg world record deadlift. Not long after, Krzysztof then extended his records unofficially at a Polish competition, deadlifting 400kg and totaling 900.5kg. With the ability to gain weight heading into the competition (weighing <100kg not long ago), Krzysztof has the advantage leading into the World’s.
British lifter Stephen Manuel missed out on the gold medal at last year’s World Championships after dropping the bar on his second attempt deadlift (320kg) and losing grip reattempting it on his third. This meant Stephen placed 4th overall, missing out on a podium position which he had in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Stephen had a comeback performance at the Arnold Classic Europe in September 2016, squatting and totaling 105kg world records (331kg and 861kg respectively). With the competition so stiff however, Stephen will still need to perform his best to have a shot at making the podium once again.
Bryce Lewis is a respected coach and head of TSA (The Strength Athlete). His last major competition was USAPL Raw Nationals in 2016 where he won handily with an unofficial world record total of 868kg in the 105kg class. This was after placing 3rd in 2015, and 4th in 2014. To take the win, he chipped Garrett Blevins’ total on his final deadlift with a 345kg pull, securing himself a spot at the World Championships for the first time. Of the top four front-runners, he is the most well balanced of the group. Expect to see him go head to head with Screamer and Blevins on the squat and bench. It will come down to deadlift against Mr. Deadlift himself. Lewis has pulled over 800 in training and it will likely take something in that realm to keep pace with Wierzbicki.
After their intensely close battle at the USAPL Raw Nationals, team USA made the decision to take both Bryce and Garrett Blevins to the World’s. This proved to be the right decision, as in March 2017, Garrett posted a blazing performance at the Arnold Classic in Columbus. Squatting a new world record of 331.5kg (beating Stephen Manuel’s), benching a new world record of 224kg, and totaling a new world record of 885.5kg, Garrett is a force to be reckoned with. All four of these lifters have set new world record totals in the past year, so to say this weightclass is going to be exciting is an understatement. Make sure to watch this stacked weightclass.
Bonica Lough is undoubtedly the most dominant super heavyweight female lifter of our time. Last year she won the World Classic Championships by a massive 91kg ahead of the next lifter. Bonica currently holds the squat (272.5kg), bench press (151kg) and total (646kg) world records, and will likely hold them for years to come with no major competition in the horizon. The American lifter made history when she became the first female to squat 600lbs (272.5kg) raw at the Arnold in 2016, and will go down as one of the best strength athletes in history. With the gold medal guaranteed, we’ll hope to see her try to extend her already massive world records.
Climbing closer to Bonica is Canadian lifter Hailey Kostynuik. Last year Hailey placed 2nd at the World Classic Championships with a 555kg total. In 2017, she won the CPU Raw Nationals with a 571.5kg total. We’ll see how much closer she can get to the elusive 600kg mark in Belarus.
Not only did Dennis Cornelius win the 120kg class last year, but he also came out as the second best male lifter overall by Wilks score with his 978.5kg total. After briefly testing the waters of the super heavyweight 120kg+ class at the USAPL Raw Nationals 2016, Dennis is back in the 120kg class and is the favorite to win. The American lifter holds the bench (253kg) and total (978.5kg) world records in the 120kg class, and will look to take back his squat world record from fellow USA lifter Anthony Harris, who beat Dennis’s record earlier this year. We’ll see just how much closer Dennis can get to the 1000kg total milestone which has only been achieved by a handful of super heavyweight men. Dennis is real. We’re not sure if he’s human. Expect him to blow everybody away.
After placing 2nd at the World Classic Championships last year, Mohamed Bouafia unfortunately bombed out on squats at the Arnold Classic Europe in November 2016, missing 340kg, 360kg and 370kg for depth on all his attempts. The Algerian lifter will be looking to have a redeeming performance at the World’s this year and challenge Dennis for the top spot.
British lifter Tony Cliffe has had a good year so far, winning the European Classic Championships in March. Tony placed 3rd last year next to Dennis Cornelius and Mohamed Bouafia, and is once again likely to take the bronze medal. His best lifts to date are a 335kg squat, 232.5kg bench, 357.5kg deadlift, and 912.5kg total, 32.5kg behind Mohamed’s best.
Ray Williams is possibly the biggest name in Powerlifting at the moment (or of all time) and is King of the super heavyweight class. Winning last year’s World Championships with a 438kg squat, Ray went on to make history, squatting 1,005lbs (456kg) at the USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 for an unofficial world record, becoming the first person to squat 1,000+ lbs without wraps in competition. However, before the year was up, Jezza Uepa stunned everyone with his 455kg (1,003lbs) official world record squat at the Asia/Oceania Classic Championships. Then in March this year, Ray re-took his world record with a 477.5kg squat, also extending his total world record to 1105kg at the Arnold Classic. Ray also recently matched this squat world record in training leading up to the World Championships, so all eyes will be on him to see what he puts on the bar. It will be a sight to behold.
Kelly Branton is only 5kg behind Jezza Uepa in the nominations after his fantastic performance at the Arnold Classic in March this year, where he totaled 1020kg going only 6/9. Placing 3rd next to Ray Williams and Jezza last year, and 3rd next to Ray and Blaine Sumner in 2015, this could be Kelly’s year to take the silver medal. The Canadian lifter missed 440kg on the squat for depth at the Arnold Classic, but has since been seen squatting up to 415kg for a very fast single in training with Blaine Sumner. If he manages to hit depth on all his attempts at the World’s, Kelly should be able to put up a massive total to challenge Jezza for the silver medal.
One of the only men in the world able to challenge Ray William’s squat and total is Jezza Uepa from the tiny island of Nauru. As mentioned, Jezza held the squat world record for a brief time before it was re-taken by Ray. Since then, Jezza attempted and missed 457.5kg (1,008lbs) on his 3rd attempt at the Pacific Invitational competition in April, managing 440kg on his 2nd, totaling 1030kg.