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Into its second year of operation, the Classic World Bench Press Championships offers a unique chance for Bench Press athletes who desire to compete unequipped to battle for a World Championship! This event is being held in Killeen, Texas, USA under the USA Powerlifting IPF affiliate, the same location of the Classic World Championships last year (3-lift). For all fans of Bench Press, this meet places the best in the world on the same platform and, in some cases, in the same weight class. Let’s have a look at the top lifters and battles to watch in the upcoming 2017 Classic World Bench Press Championships!
Daiki Kodama (Japan) vs. Yusuke Suzuki (Japan) in the -74kg class!
Kodama vs. Suzuki, Japanese Bench Press Nationals, 2016.
These two have had some epic encounters in the past, none more exciting than their battle for bench gold at the at a local contest in back in 2015 where Kodama and Suzuki pressed over the IPF world record at the time with 212.5kg / 468lb for Kodama and 212kg / 467lb for Suzuki. Both of which are still over the single-lift bench press world record! Shown below are the best lifts from each lifter at this meet. The 212.5kg lift from Kodama still stands as the Japanese record in this class.
Kodama vs. Suzuki, both over the IPF World Record, 2015.
These two never disappoint and is certainly a battle to watch at this meet!
Caleb Voice (Australia) vs. Dennis Cieri (USA) vs. Andrii Krymov (Ukraine) vs. LS McClain (USA) in the -93kg class!
What a battle this is looking to be! The best ever bench presser in this class, Dennis Cieri, comes up against three lifters who all have a good chance of winning. Defending champion in this class, Cieri recently chipped his open world record at the Arnold Sports Festival with 233kg / 513lb, a record which he has always held since 2012. He is the obvious favourite in this meet and the 49 year old may have to produce an incredible feat if he is to hold off his rivals. It's situations like this that bring out the best in lifters and we may see another example of that here!
Dennis Cieri grinds through 233kg in Columbus, 2017!
Caleb Voice is the current world champion in the -83kg class where he benched 200kg / 440lb to win Australia’s first raw World Championship. He has now moved up to the -93kg class and looks incredibly comfortable, especially considering Voice’s nomination of 227.5kg / 501lb performed in November last year looked incredibly conservative. This lift also made him the best raw bench presser that Australia has ever produced.
Caleb Voice with the best Bench Press on Wilks with 227.5kg, 2016!
The two outside chances are LS McClain and newcomer to raw bench press competition, Andrii Krymov. McClain comes off an uplifting Arnold’s performance in the Pro American with PB’s the Squat, Deadlift, and Total as well as the win in the -93kg class! He recently hit a 225kg / 495lb press in training but I don’t see him challenging for the championship. Krymov may be a bit of a surprise packet with his most recent accolade being a bronze medal at the 2016 Equipped Bench World Championship with 310kg / 683lb in the -93kg class. With his nomination of 222.5kg / 490lb (which was Cieri’s winning number last year), he is certainly a lifter that has a chance of winning if results go his way.
LS is certainly capable of a 500lb+ Bench, shown here with 227.5kg / 501lb!
Krymov's last world record Bench Press in 2011, 300kg / 661lb on the bar.
Justyna Kozdryk (Poland, -47kg)
I’ll be honest, I have never heard of Kozdryk but she has been around for at least 14 years on the international scene. An out and out bench presser, Kozdryk comes into her first international raw bench press competition nominated at 92.5kg / 203lb, just 0.5kg below the single-lift world record held by Hanna Rantala (Finland). She has held 3 IPF world records in equipped bench press peaking at 127.5kg / 281lb in 2011 before Yukako Fukushima (Japan) established herself and has made that record her own, now at 132kg / 291lb. Kozdryk recently competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in the -45kg class where she finished 4th with 95kg / 209lb and I think this number or even higher will be on her mind at this meet!
127.5kg Equipped World Record, 2011.
101kg / 222lb miss at the Rio Paralympic Games, 2016.
Jennifer Thompson (USA, -63kg)
A woman that needs no introduction and a regular feature on this blog, Jennifer Thompson, believe it or not, will attend her first raw bench press world championship! Last year she competed raw at the Equipped Bench Press World Championship in the M1 category and won her division! Her 137.5kg / 303lb lift was enough to win her division by 7.5kg and best female M1 lifter by 5.21 Wilks points, keep in mind that all lifters were competing equipped. This year her form has continued to improve with a 3-lift and single-lift world record (-72kg) at the Reykjavik International Games with 144kg / 317lb at 63.15kg / 139lb bodyweight. She followed that up with another single-lift world record setting performance at the Arnold Pro Bench Bash (-63kg) with 142kg / 313lb at 61.01kg / 134lb. She’ll look to chip that to 142.5kg / 314lb at this meet.
Some footage of her performances this year are shown below!
144kg Bench Press for Thompson, -72kg world record, 2017!
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142kg Bench Press World Record (-63kg) at the Arnold, 2017!
Bonica Lough (USA, 84kg+)
The best raw Super Heavyweight female that the IPF has seen, Bonica Lough continues to push the boundaries in the game especially with her 272.5kg / 600lb squat at the 2016 Arnold Sports Festival. She may look to take the grand slam of world championships that are on offer in 2017 as she won the Classic and Equipped Open World Championships in 2016. This year she has two more World-level championships she can win with the addition of this meet and the World Games! She could potentially win 4 world championships this year, something which I don’t think anyone has done.
Back to this meet, Bonica holds the 3-lift and single-lift bench press world records with 151kg / 332lb which she did in Killeen at the Classic World Championship. She is the favourite by 11kg ahead of Ukrainian lifter and runner-up in this class in 2016, Tetiana Bilousova, who has nominated at a huge 140kg / 308lb which is 25kg above her silver medal performance in Potchefstroom! Even if that nomination is correct, I don’t think there will be anything, or anyone, stopping Bonica winning her first Classic Bench Press World Championship and her first championship of the year!
151kg Bench Press from the Classic World Championships, 2016.
As a huge fan of bench press, I can’t wait to see what these lifters have to offer and being Australian, I’m very excited for Caleb Voice and Dennis Cieri to do battle, that is certainly my number 1 pick to watch for this meet.
The Classic World Bench Press Championships begin on April 17 at 12 pm local time with the Open division starting on April 21 at 5 pm local time.
Next week something big is happening in Sydney with the first Pacific Invitational of the year being held at the Sydney Fitness Show in Sydney Olympic Park with invited lifters from around the world including David Ricks, Daiki Kodama, Brett Gibbs, Liz Craven and John Paul Cauchi. An event not to miss, that preview drops in a fortnight!
Until next time, train hard, train smart and dominate on the platform.
Tim Davies – Team PB Powerlifting
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