There were countless incredible moments at the World Championships in Minsk, Belarus, and discussing them all could easily become a lengthy essay. The standard of lifting was so incredibly high compared to previous years, giving many of the top athletes and reigning champions a run for their money from numerous underdogs. This made for a very exciting World Championship, with many records broken and close battles for championship titles. As such, here at 9for9 Media, we’ve sat down and put together what we think were the top 10 moments from the World’s:
#10. Richardson vs. Nakonechnyy, 120kg+ Jr class
To finish off the Junior lifting at the World’s, Luke Richardson (GBR) and Pavlo Nakonechnyy (UKR) had an epic showdown in the 120kg+ class. Pavlo is a huge lifter, and had the heavier opener of the two, squatting 320kg compared to Luke’s 307.5kg. However, Luke quickly moved into first place position, squatting 330kg on his second and 337.5kg on his third, whereas the Ukranian lifter missed both of his next attempts. Pavlo was the bigger bencher, closing the gap by the third attempts with his 205kg press compared to Luke’s 190kg. This meant Luke only had the lead by 2.5kg, which was soon snatched from him as Pavlo opened with 320kg on the deadlift compared to Luke’s 315kg. Both 1997-born lifters made 15kg jumps on their second attempts, Luke with 337.5kg and Pavlo with 342.5kg, meaning Pavlo maintained his lead. To try and move into the gold medal position, Luke attempted 350kg on his final pull, narrowly missing due to grip issues. This gave Pavlo the all clear to go all out and attempt a Junior world record deadlift of 355.5kg; which he made to total 880.5kg and win the championship title.
#9. Juniors Yandell and Pho set Open world records @ 66kg
Coming into this event, Sawyer Yandell (USA) already held the 66kg squat world record with 248.5kg from the Arnold Classic earlier this year. Meanwhile John Paul Cauchi (AUS) held the deadlift world record with 282.5kg, which Clifton Pho (CAN) unofficially beat at the 2017 CPU Raw Nationals with 283kg.
At the World’s, Sawyer opened up with 235kg, and immediately made the jump to chip his own record to 249kg on his second attempt. The 1994-born American lifter moved this well, smiling and nodding to himself on the way up. He went on to attempt 250.5kg on his third attempt, but unfortunately missed. Although Sergey Gladkikh (RUS) beat Sawyer’s record when the Open 66kg men lifted a few days later, it was mightily impressive to see the Junior lifter extend the record himself, and we look forward to him challenging it soon.
The 66kg Junior championship title ultimately came down to the final deadlifts. Eddie Berglund (SWE), who also owns the Open bench record in the 66kg class (189kg), had the lead over Sawyer and Clifton Pho (CAN). However, Clifton’s huge deadlift meant he had the last say. On his second attempt, he took the lead over Eddie, simultaneously breaking the world record with a smooth 283kg pull. Eddie then moved back into gold medal position with his final deadlift, but in the end Clifton managed to extend his world record to 285kg, matching Eddie’s total and winning the championship title on bodyweight.
#8. Von Weissenberg vs. Castellain, squat world record battle @ 72kg
Although Kimberly Walford (USA) is the undisputed queen of the 72kg class, winning her sixth consecutive championship title this year, the event was made particularly exciting with the squat battle between Isabella von Weissenberg (SWE) and Ana Castellain (BRA). Since early 2016, Isabella has dominated the squat world record spot, first setting it with 187.5kg at the 2016 European Championships, then extending it to 188kg at the 2016 World’s, and then to 192.5kg at the 2017 European’s again. Meanwhile, Ana Castellain has been competing at a higher bodyweight, winning the 84kg class last year at the World Championships. Now down a weight class, we saw these two lifters battle it out for the squat world record.
Both lifters opened up the heaviest in the weight class with 185kg, only 3kg less than the world record Isabella set last year. On her second attempt, Ana moved up 7.5kg to 192.5kg, matching Isabella’s record but not setting a new one. Isabella decided to chip her record on her second attempt, squatting 193kg comfortably. Ana jumped to 196kg on her third attempt to beat the record just set, moving the weight at good speed (for a world record). Isabella attempted 197.5kg on her final attempt. However, the weight was just too much for her, missing it at the sticking point despite her best efforts, leaving the Brazilian lifter with the record.
#7. 18 year old Melo squats 206.5kg open world record
18-year-old Daniella Melo (USA) burst on the Powerlifting scene last year, qualifying for the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals with a 490kg total. She then easily won the 84kg Junior division at nationals, and even came second in the Open. After totaling 520kg at the Arnold Classic in her first international competition, the 1998-born lifter came in to the World’s to win the championship title and set some world records – and that she did. Moving her 187.5kg squat opener easily, she moved up to 198.5kg to easily set a new 84kg Junior world record. On her final attempt, Daniella came out to squat 206.5kg and beat Ielja Strik’s (NED) Open world record. Calm and focused, Daniella pushed through a small sticking point and got the world record with white lights all round. She went on to bench 117.5kg and deadlift 207.5kg, giving her a 531.5kg Junior world record total, only 5kg off the Open world record.
#6. Gruden vs Noriega, 83kg Jr title showdown
The 83kg Junior division was a battle between Team USA lifters Jon Gruden and Sean Noriega. On their second attempt squats, they both hit 272.5kg, Sean’s moving quite a bit faster. After both missing their third attempt squats, Jon took the lead on bench, hitting 195kg, with Sean only managing 182.5kg. However, Sean is the bigger deadlifter, and took the lead in the total with his 282.5kg opener, compared to Jon’s 270kg. After Jon pulled 285kg on his second attempt, Sean maintained his lead with a 295kg pull. On his final attempt, Jon made a 5kg increase up to 290kg, giving him a total of 752.5kg. This meant Sean had to pull 300kg, a lift he made earlier this year at the Arnold Classic, to win the title. With not too much difficulty, the weight came off the ground and Sean locked it out, receiving two white lights and winning the championship title! Or so we thought… Only a few moments later, the news came in that the jury had overturned Sean’s lift on the basis that his shoulders were not locked back – the same reason one of the side judges gave him a red light in the first place. With this controversial call, it meant Jon Gruden won the gold medal and best overall Junior male lifter.
#5. Craven vs. Hartwig-Gary, squat world record battle @ 52kg
The 52kg class was the women’s equivalent of the men’s 105’s, extremely heated and a very close battle between all the top lifters. Suzanne Hartwig-Gary, also Team USA’s head coach, is a bit behind on the total when it comes to the top lifters, but gave current world record holder in the squat, Liz Craven (AUS), a run for her money. After both lifters squatted 150kg on their second attempts, Liz extended her world record to 156kg. However, Suzanne had the final say, chipping Liz’s record with 156.5kg after a big fight.
The drama of the 52kg class didn’t finish there. After Liz missed her second deadlift of 180kg, Marisa Inda took the lead after her second pull of 182.5kg. Meanwhile underdog in the weight class, Joy Nnamani (GBR), who was previously nominated fourth and quite far behind the top three, got her chance to take the lead position with a 191kg world record pull. Unfortunately, she just missed the lift near the lockout, but it made for an even more exciting 52kg class. After Liz and Joy missed their re-attempts at the same weight, Marisa was crowned 52kg world champion.
#4. Wierzbicki deadlifts 380kg to win the Battle of the 105’s
This was the weight class everyone was eager to watch, with four titans all in the medal-mix: Stephen Manuel (GBR), Garrett Blevins (USA), Bryce Lewis (USA), and Krzysztof Wierzbicki (POL). It didn’t disappoint. Garett had the lead coming into the deadlifts with a 322.5kg squat and 217.5kg bench, despite missing his third attempts on both lifts. Meanwhile Stephen was in second, Bryce was in third, and Krzysztof wasn’t far behind in fourth. However, it was the deadlifts that would ultimately rise Krzysztof to the top.
Opening with 360kg, Krzysztof surged into the gold medal position with an 865kg sub-total, 10kg ahead of Bryce, who moved into second position with his 327.5kg opener. On Krzysztof’s second, he pulled 380kg smoothly and further solidify his lead. However, Bryce jumped 17.5kg on his third attempt to 360kg, which if he pulled, would set him in the gold medal position by 2.5kg, putting pressure on Krzysztof. Despite his best efforts, Bryce missed the lift at his knees, giving Krzysztof the world championship title. Before the day was over though, Krzysztof went to attempt the elusive 400kg milestone on his third attempt, which would secure him the world record deadlift and total. Unfortunately, Krzysztof didn’t manage to make the pull, but it was still an epic moment to finish off the most hyped weightclass this year.
#3. McClain wins the 93kg world title
No one saw this coming. The top three nominations leading into this event were: Junior lifter Anatolii Novopismennyi (UKR), last year’s 93kg Junior world champion, Yerlan Smagulov (KAZ), Junior world champion in 2015, and David Ricks (USA), legendary 58-year-old M2 lifter who defies the laws of age. LS McClain was behind, nominated fourth. After squats, LS was way down in seventh place with a 285kg squat; a large handful of lifers squatted more, including Yerlan Smagulov, with a 310kg Junior world record, and Jakub Sedlacek (CZE), another underdog, also with 310kg.
Bench was where LS made up most of his ground, pressing a huge 227.5kg/ 501lbs on his third attempt to move into silver medal position. Fighting to maintain his lead, LS opened with 290kg on the deadlift, and hit 305kg on his second. Jakub Sedlacek almost took the gold medal position attempting 300kg on his third attempt, but missed, before LS finished off his deadlifts with 315kg, resulting in an 827.5kg total. LS was literally laughing to himself as he was setting up for his final pull, having the time of his life up on the world stage.
Both Yerlan and Anatolii then had the opportunity to take the championship title for themselves on their final pulls, with LS displaying the best sportsmanship we’ve ever seen, cheering them on in the background. Neither of the two lifters made their final attempts though, giving underdog LS the world championship title. To top off his epic win and display of sportsmanship, LS invited his fellow USA lifter, David Ricks, up to the podium as the national anthem played, bringing him to tears.
#2. Williams wins best open male lifter
After years of 59kg lifter Sergey Fedosienko (RUS) winning the best overall male lifter by Wilks score, Ray Williams (USA) finally took the title this year. As drama unfolded with Jezza Uepa’s (NRU) squats, not receiving the squat command for soft knees (but the jury overturning the call after), Ray made his first squat of 450kg. Ray moved up to a massive 470kg on his second attempt, only 7.5kg less than his current world record.
Having re-taken opener of 425kg on his second attempt (missing the first for depth), Jezza moved 460kg ridiculously fast on his third attempt. Ray then decided to skip his final attempt of 479kg, which would have beaten his world record by 1.5kg. Finishing bench with 242.5kg on his third attempt, and deadlifting 377.5kg on his second, Ray had a crack at a new world record deadlift of 393kg, which would also chip his world record total by .5kg. Although he missed it, Ray ended up with a 1090kg total and 585.98 Wilks, enough for him to beat Sergey’s 576.91.
#1. Millican squats 174.5kg world record, wins best open female lifter
Jennifer Millican (USA) made her Powerlifting debut in December 2015 at a local competition, and went on to take the Powerlifting scene by storm at the 2016 USAPL Raw Nationals, winning not only the 57kg division, but also the best overall female lifter title with her 525.86 Wilks. At the World Classic Championships this year, the 57kg class was a battle between Jennifer and Maria Htee (CAN), who posted a blistering performance at the Arnold Classic this year, weighing in slightly heavy for the 57kg class, but totalling 468.5kg which would have been a 57kg world record.
At the World’s, after Maria missed her second squat of 172.5kg and re-took it on her third (hitting it that time), Jennifer ended up setting a new world record of 174.5kg on her third attempt. Both lifters matched each other on bench, hitting 100kg on their thirds. Opening with 177.5kg on deadlifts, Jennifer secured the gold medal when Maria missed her second attempt of 190kg, having opened with 180kg. Jennifer went on to deadlift 187.5kg, totalling a new world record of 462kg, winning her weightclass and the best overall female lifter title with a 542.53 Wilks, a title Kimberly Walford and Jennifer Thompson have been tossing back and forth other for years. This was Millican’s fourth ever competition, and she became the best female lifter of the World Championships. Coupled with her spilling emotions after winning the title, this makes for our #1 top moment of the 2017 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships.
Bonus choice: Yoshihiro Higa and Kjell Bakkelund set 74kg world records
We weren’t joking when we said there were countless moments to choose from, and we just had to include the 74kg class. Yoshihiro Higa (JAP) squatted 270kg for an unofficial world record at the Japanese Raw Nationals earlier this year. With the World’s being his first international competition, Yoshihiro shocked the scene, comfortably chipping the world record with 261kg on his second attempt, and then extending it up to 270kg, barely shy of 600lbs, once again on his third. In between this, Taylor Atwood (USA) also broke the record with 265.5kg, which would have been crazy enough news in itself!
However, the wonderment didn’t end there. Kjell Bakkelund (NOR) is a seasoned 83kg equipped lifter, and set two deadlift world records on the way to winning his first world classic championship title. After squatting 247.5kg and benching 187.5kg, Kjell opened with a world record deadlift of 311kg. The Norwegian lifter wasn’t done there, extending the record with his second pull of 322kg, securing the championship title, and setting a massive world record total of 757kg – 27kg more than the world record before this competition.
About the author: Ramsay Kirkhy
Ramsay holds a BSc in Psychology and is currently studying for his MSc. He is also a certified Personal Trainer with three years’ experience. Along with his studies, he has a huge passion for Powerlifting, competing in the 74kg division in Great Britain, also writing for the 9for9 Media blog.