The Equipped World Championships is always the premier event on the IPF calendar, however, this year it will play as the understudy to the hugely successful World Games event held back in July. Athletes would have trained for years for that moment and the trade-off is that some of the highly competitive lifters have not been nominated, most notably Wei-Ling Chen (Chinese Taipei, -47kg) in the women and Blaine Sumner (USA, 120kg+) in the men. The other trade-off is that it has allowed other lifters who didn’t qualify for the World Games to compete at World level, most notably team Indonesia, which I will get into soon.
This year, we head to the Czech Republic in Central Europe, specifically Plzeň which is the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic. Their best male lifter is David Lupac (120kg+) who is coming off an incredible performance at the World Games where he finished fourth. Their best equipped female (Jana Hrabalová, -72kg) will not be competing and has not increased her total record of 492.5kg in 5 years. The best female lifter that the Czech Republic are sending is -63kg lifter Lenka Strolená who has the current squat, deadlift and total national records.
With that said, let’s get straight into the top lifters to watch at this year’s Equipped World Championships!
Widari Widari (Indonesia, -47kg)
We start with one of the brightest talents in Lightweight Powerlifting, 26 year old Widari Widari. Now I completely understand if you never heard of her before, so let me break down how she has gotten international fame. Back in May this year, Indonesia hosted the Equipped Asian Powerlifting Championships which featured such lifters as Hui-Chun Wu (Chinese Taipei, -57kg) and Sari Noviana (Indonesia, -63kg). Widari stole the show with an amazing 140kg bench press open world record which added 8kg to the record at the time which was held by another Asian bench press specialist, Yukako Fukushima (Japan). Fukushima had held that record from when the weight classes changed in 2011 until 2017 so it took something special to break it.
Widari’s 140kg bench press from 2017 Equipped Asians! For reference the -57kg world record is 146kg held by another Indonesian, Hartati Sri.
Widari’s nominated total from Equipped Asians is 490kg through a 180kg squat and 170kg deadlift in addition to the 140kg bench press. The total is 10kg off the world record held by another Asian legend, Wei-Ling Chen (Chinese Taipei) and if she squats well (came into Equipped Asians with a 190kg nomination) and benches well, Chen’s historic 500kg total world record may come crashing down.
Widari’s closest rival at this meet is undoubtedly Fukushima who is nominated at 496kg (188.5/134.5kg/173) which looks to be total done at a Japanese nationals as it definitely was not done at Asians this year. We can get a good idea of what Fukushima is good for as she recently competed at the World Games achieving a silver medal behind runaway leader Natalia Salnikova (Russia, -52kg). She achieved her best ever total here with 485kg (185/135/165) and in my opinion, this is a better nomination total to guide performances off. All in all, this is going to be extremely close and will kick off the female division brilliantly, Widari to win for me.
Fukushima’s 485kg M1 world record total at the recent World Games including a M1 world record bench press of 135kg!
Larysa Soloviova (Ukraine, -63kg)
Larysa Soloviova needs no introduction, quite simply the best female Powerlifter in the history of the IPF! There's only one reason why I'm previewing Soloviova is the video below. In 2016, Soloviova attempted a 232.5kg deadlift for what would have been for 700 Wilks points overall, the first lifter to do so in Powerlifting history.
A true master of this sport and if anyone deserves the 700 Wilks, it's Soloviova. We may see history be made in Plzeň!
Soloviova is inches away from being the first lifter to accumulate 700 Wilks points in the IPF in 2016 with a miss at 232.5kg, 12.5kg away from her international best.
Rhaea Stinn (Canada, -72kg)
Lots of lifters in the -72kg class with current world record holder in total, Priscilla Ribic (USA), and current world record holder in deadlift Marte Elverum (Norway) in the mix to win the championship. However, one lifter who is rapidly improving, although has been in the game for a long time, is Canada’s Rhaea Stinn. Stinn is hoping to cap off a very successful 2017 which has culminated in her first open bench press world record at the NAPF Regional Bench Press Championships in October with 178.5kg! Now training under current equipped World Champion, Blaine Sumner, her training is looking better and better every week and she could sneak home into a medal and if lifts go her way, she could win the class. Rhaea is definitely one to watch, not only because she could set a bench press world record, but her nomination is definitely conservative from what she is capable of on the day!
Stinn’s first ever open world record with a 178.5kg single-lift bench press at the recent NAPF Regional Bench Press Championships.
Of course, Stinn still has Ribic and Elverum to beat and Ribic is in the form of her life after recently chipping the 4 year old total world record held by Ana Castellain (Brazil) at the Master’s World Championships in Sundsvall, Sweden. Her 643kg total through a 237.5kg squat (7.5kg off her best), a 160.5kg bench press M1 world record and a 245kg deadlift (3kg off her best) is the single best performance she has ever done in international competition and has put her in prime position to win yet another world championship.
Ribic hits a 237.5kg squat, 160.5kg bench press and a 245kg deadlift to chip Ana Castellain’s total world record set back in 2013 at the legendary Stavanger World Championship in Norway!
However, Ribic competed just 5 weeks ago, whereas second seed, Marte Elverum, has had a large break since the World Games in July. She also competed and won Norwegian raw nationals and is back into training hard for another big event! This may be her best chance to win her first open world championship and if she has carried momentum into this meet from the World Games, there could be an upset on the cards. Ribic has relied on her huge deadlift for years to beat Ana Castellain to the world championship but to have an equal quality deadlifter in Elverum pushing Ribic, we may see a different attempt strategy from the U.S. coaching staff which could lead to some enormous deadlift attempts for victory!
Elverum’s best ever total of 631kg at the recent World Games finishing with an epic 248.5kg open world record deadlift!
Natalie Hanson (USA, -84kg)
Natalie Hanson’s rapid rise in the equipped world began in 2015 where she attended her first equipped world championship in Hamm, Luxembourg where she came 4th with a 607.5kg total. This year, she is seeded first with a huge 655kg total done at the USAPL equipped national championship including a 270kg squat which is currently 1.5kg over the world record held by Olena Kozlova (Ukraine). Her bodyweight relative to other lifters will dictate what she does with her squat but I certainly see her attempting at least 270.5kg to break the world and American records simultaneously. Kozlova’s successor in this class, Yevheniia Tishakova (Ukraine, who is 2 years older than Kozlova so I don’t quite know what’s happened to her) recently competed at the World Games and is nominated with her World Games performance featuring a 260kg squat first attempt and missing 270kg twice! I certainly don’t think Hanson will walk through to this world record squat but she is certainly in prime position to take it. Tishakova does have a lot of international experience though, including the biggest stage that Powerlifting has to offer, the World Games.
Hanson’s American record total of 655kg at 2017 USAPL Nationals. Her 270kg squat is 1.5kg above the current world record!
Being 35kg above Tishakova’s nomination, Hanson should comfortably win and the total record may be on her mind, currently at 670.5kg held by Kozlova. Hanson will need to bench and deadlift perfectly following a successful squat session to have a chance at it! I for one am really excited to see how Hanson handles this added pressure as it is this trait that separates the true world class athletes from the rest!
Bonica Lough (USA, 84kg+)
Lough took her equipped lifting to the next level at the World Games in July smashing the open total world record by 10kg including a 310.5kg open world record squat, a 205kg bench press and a 247.5kg deadlift in her first international meet in a deadlift suit to beat Ukraine’s Tetyana Melnyk by ~2 Wilks points.
Lough is one to watch here as the deadlift had plenty more weight to be lifted so we may see her attempt 271kg to chip the world record held by former total world record holder Olga Gemaletdinova (Russia). This would likely further increase the total world record towards 800kg assuming a successful squat and bench press session!
Expect a big performance from Lough here!
Lough’s performance from the World Games featuring a world record squat (310.5kg) and total (763kg)!
Sergey Gladkikh (Russia, -66kg)
Gladkikh returns to world level equipped lifting following a 2-year hiatus! In 2015, he came second to fellow Russian, Konstantin Danilov, where he or his team made a vital error in his deadlift attempt selection, missed two deadlifts at 290kg and lost the world championship by 12.5kg. Following the ban of team Russia from World’s in 2016 (only allowing two male lifters to attend), Gladkikh focused heavily on raw lifting and is now the world record holder in total with 680kg and is two time world champion. Gladkikh is also the open world record holder in total in equipped lifting with 815kg which was done at 2015 Europeans. He has not been able to replicate this form in equipment but his first international equipped meet in 2 years will highlight how his improvement in his raw performance has transferred into his equipped performance!
Gladkikh’s current world record total at 815kg done at 2015 Europeans.
Also to watch is one of the standouts of the World Games back in July and that is Hassan El-Belghitti (France). A constant figure at world level, both raw and equipped, El-Belghitti smashed a 315kg deadlift world record at the World Games for silver overall and a 772.5kg total. Probably not enough to beat Gladkikh but he will certainly be competitive for the minor medals!
All the world records from the 2017 World Games with the first video being El-Belghitti’s 315kg deadlift world record!
I have a soft spot for this team. Indonesia have produced some of the best Powerlifters in the modern day and they were on show at the 2014 Asia/Oceania Classic Powerlifting Championships, where I was present to watch. A relatively unknown lifter at the time, 20 year old Viki Aryanto (-66kg) set the open total world record going 225/155/273.5/653.5! The deadlift was an open world record with the world record holder at the time, John Paul Cauchi (Australia), watching it all happen! It should also be noted that his 155kg bench press was his second attempt, he attempted 166kg for an Asian record, had the bar slam into his chest and he passed out on the bench!
The next day, head coach of team Indonesia, Doni Meiyanto (-74kg) pulled 310.5kg to chip Hassan El-Belghitti’s world record from the 2014 World Championships. Doni is a very experienced equipped lifter as well, last competing at a world championship in 2013 in Stavanger where he won deadlift gold in the -74kg class with 320kg! He and Aryanto are regulars at the Asian Equipped Powerlifting Championship winning quite comfortably in their weight classes.
The third lifter to watch from Indonesia is -83kg lifter Muhammad Yusuf (nominated as Yusup). In 2015, Indonesia nominated Aryanto, Meiyanto and Yusuf into the Asia/Oceania Championship in Tashkent with Yusuf nominated at a 350kg raw deadlift along with a 280kg squat and 180kg bench press. He certainly seems good for the current equipped deadlift world record currently held by former IPF lifter Tom Martin (Great Britain) at 345kg. Unfortunately, there is no media on Yusuf so I have no idea if any nomination he has is accurate but it wouldn’t surprise me coming from Indonesia. Yusuf is nominated at a very conservative 320kg with Aryanto and Meiyanto nominated at conservative numbers as well, prepare for a huge shock in numbers that they can attempt! Indonesia typically nominate lifters and then do not attend but Doni is very active on Instagram and he looks like he is training hard for this meet so they may be attending!
Aryanto pulling a then open world record deadlift at 273.5kg in the -66kg class at the 2014 Asia/Oceania Powerlifting Championships in Melbourne! I watched this live in Melbourne and my jaw hit the floor!
Meiyanto pulling a then world record of 310.5kg in the -74kg class at the 2014 Asia/Oceania Powerlifting Championship in Melbourne!
Ulan Anuar (Kazakhstan, -83kg)
Anuar shocked us all when he pulled 325kg to win the -83kg Classic World Championship ahead of strong favourite, Brett Gibbs (New Zealand), back in June. He’s now nominated for equipped world’s and he does have experience in the equipped world, like most Kazakh’s do, most recently competing at the 2014 Open World Championships. There, he set a junior world record in total with 900kg but unfortunately, like many Kazakh’s as well, he received a 2 year ban following a positive doping test. Anuar has served his time and is now nominated at 910kg, 21kg behind 2015 World Champion Andriy Naniev (Ukraine) and 20kg behind current European champion, Alexey Sorokin (Russia, even though his nominated lifts total to 950kg). Both however are notoriously poor deadlifters, especially Naniev who relies on an enormous bench press to get him home. Sorokin deadlifted very well at the 2017 Europeans finishing with 317.5kg, however he struggles with grip which seem to be hit and miss on the day.
I think Anuar will surprise a few here, I don’t think he will get caught for third so Kazakhstan will no doubt have the ‘why not’ attitude that got Anuar the win at another world meet just 5 months ago!
The epic battle between Anuar and Gibbs at this year’s 2017 Classic World Championship!
Oleksandr Rubets (Ukraine, -105kg)
An interesting -105kg class will be on display here, dominated by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Rubets and Dmytro Semenenko separated by former open world record holder in total, Konstantin Lebedko (Russia). Rubets is definitely the one to watch here after his epic performance at 2017 Europeans setting an open world record in total (still as a junior) with 1,051kg! He also set an open world record squat with 431kg before Semenenko added 1kg to it at the World Games on his second attempt before attempting 440.5kg and missing on depth! Rubets’ total world record was annihilated by a light Sergii Bilyi (usually a -93kg lifter) at the World Games, now up to 1,080kg which I don’t think will get broken by anyone in this division but if anyone can do it it will be Rubets.
Rubets’ former open world record total performance at this year’s Europeans featuring a former open world record squat!
Also to look out for is Canada’s Bryce Krawczyk against Sweden’s Erik Gunhamn and USA’s Garrett Bailey who will all be chasing down the deadlift world record, currently at 387.5kg held by Luxembourg legend, Anibal Coimbra! I think Krawczyk looks good to at least take the gold and should break Coimbra’s record. To qualify for this meet, Krawczyk totaled 990kg finishing with a routine 390kg deadlift, 19.5kg more than Gunhamn has ever pulled and 22.5kg more than Bailey has ever pulled. I expect a cruisy world record for Krawczyk here!
Krawczyk pulls 390kg to lock in a 990kg total to qualify for this event, 2.5kg above the open world record deadlift.
Andrey Konovalov (Russia, -120kg)
With the rise of Blaine Sumner and formerly Carl Yngvar Christensen (Norway), one of the legends of super heavyweight Powerlifting in Russia, Andrey Konovalov, has almost been forgotten! Konovalov usually does a world championship every second year at the moment as he works around multiple back injuries. His most recent international competition was 2016 Europeans where he totaled 1,202.5kg for his first ever total over 1,200kg, the third lifter to do so in IPF history behind Christensen and Sumner. His most recent meet though was Russian equipped nationals where he squatted 482.5kg, benched 377.5kg and deadlifted 370kg for a 1,230kg total (all of which are Russian national records). His total matches the current European record held by Christensen so I would say that he will be looking for at least 1,232.5kg. He doesn’t look to be challenged by anyone in this meet, pending incredible performances by Volodymyr Svistunov (Ukraine) and Joe Cappellino (USA). Prepare for Konovalov’s best performance yet!
Konovalov’s most recent international equipped meet at the 2016 Europeans with a 1,202.5kg Russian record total at the time!
There we have it, a few lifters to watch at this year’s Open World Championships in Plzeň, but the reality is, all lifters are worth watching at this level! I’ve missed out a few lifters on here such as Fedosienko and Olech in the men and Salnikova and Ryzhkova but it’s implied that we’ll be watching them already!
Until next time, train hard, train smart and dominate on the platform.
Tim Davies – Team PB Powerlifting
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