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This week, the best bench pressers in the world will assemble together in Kaunas, Lithuania for what looks to be one of the best World Bench Press Championships in many years. I’ve been interested in this event since the 2014 edition of this meet when Finland’s Fredrik Smulter (120kg+) was going lift for lift with Jonathan Leo (USA) and Smulter called for the largest Bench Press ever by an IPF lifter, the magical 400kg / 881lb. Smulter smashed it and pushed Leo to 400.5kg / 882lb which he missed. This added a massive 25kg to the world record and certainly made the super heavyweights the weight class to watch for future meets. In 2016, Germany’s Fiona Gundula Sommer von Bachhaus (-63kg) hit a 3 times bodyweight bench with 184kg / 405lb at 61.28kg / 135lb bodyweight, a feat which was only matched about 3 weeks ago at the Equipped Asians by 18 year old -47kg lifter Widari Widari (Indonesia) , more on von Bachhaus below.

Fredrik Smulter’s 400kg World Championship winning lift in Rodby, Denmark in 2014.

 

Some historic moments in the history of the IPF have occurred at this meet, so let’s get started in this weight class breakdown of the 2017 Open World Equipped Bench Press Championships!

 

Women -47kg, Current WR: 140kg / 308lb – Widari Widari (Indonesia)

I certainly don’t think that Widari’s new WR will be challenged here but there are two lifters in this weight class that could take the crown. Both lifters have recently competed with number 1 seed Aigul Sitdikova (Russia) winning the European Equipped Championship just two weeks ago and number 2 seed Justyna Kozdryk (Poland) winning the World Raw Bench Press Championship with a new open WR (95kg / 209lb). The European record will certainly be on the line here which Sitdikova set at Europeans with her nomination of 118kg / 260lb.

I’m picking Sitdikova here based on the fact she’s trained in the shirt and has very recent competition experience with it, although it will be very close with Kozdryk being a legend of the -47kg class being a 9-time world champion.

Sitdikova’s Russian record set at 125kg / 275lb!

 

-59kg Men, Current WR: 210kg / 462lb, Yasufumi Kimura (Japan)

The Japanese dominate this class, however, current WR holder, Yasufumi Kimura has not been nominated, instead what looks to be the B lifter from Japan, Toshihiko Noda, has been nominated with a not so B grade nomination of 205kg / 451lb. Not much is known about Noda, but here is what I know, his last competition was 7 years ago where he won the world championship in the old -67.5kg class with a 215kg / 473lb bench.

I’m certainly picking Noda for the win here but there are two junior lifters from Kazakhstan which are definitely competitive if Noda has a terrible meet. The one I know more about is Abdulkarim Karaman who recently won the Raw Bench Press World Championship with a 160kg / 352lb lift, just 3kg off the junior world record. In equipment, the junior world record is standard at 190kg / 418lb, both Kazakh’s are nominated at 190kg and has certainly set up a brilliant Eurasian battle for the junior world record!

Enjoy this old compilation of Japanese Bench Press! Noda (first video) with what looks to be his best ever Bench in Japan with 237.5kg / 523lb in the old -67.5kg class!

 

-52kg Women, Current WR: 145kg / 319lb – Maria Dominguez (Venezuela)

Finland’s best female bench presser will be on display in this class with former raw WR holder in the -47kg class, Hanna Rantala, stepping back into the shirt since her second place finish in 2014. I don’t expect a WR to fall here but there is certainly a good battle to be had between compatriot Marcela Sandvik and Russia’s Yana Zadorina. Rantala is nominated at 128.5kg / 283lb while Sandvik and Zadorina are nominated at 122.5kg / 270lb. Sandvik and Zadorina have both hit 125kg / 275lb in international competition so expected to see a shuffle in the final positions relative to the nominations. However, I’m picking Rantala based on form and what she is capable of in the shirt.

Hanna Rantala’s most recent equipped bench world championships finishing with her best ever lift in international competition of 127.5kg / 281lb!

 

-66kg Men, Current WR: 241kg / 531lb, Yan Urusov (Russia)

Two lifters dominate this class, current WR holder Yan Urusov (Russia) and returning to equipped lifting Masashi Fukuda (Japan) with an enormous 245kg / 540lb nomination. Urusov is the defending champion after taking a huge 16kg jump on the third to chip Ivan Chuprinko’s (Ukraine) WR at the time, Chuprinko then chipped that record with 241.5kg / 532lb to win but was later banned. Urusov is yet to compete in 2017 with his last meet being the European Bench Press Championship where he won with 232.5kg / 512lb.

Fukuda is an interesting case.  He competed in the raw Bench Press World Championship and managed a 4th place finish with 162.5kg / 358lb, the same number the year before was worthy of a 2nd place finish. He last competed in an equipped meet at the 2010 Open Bench Press World Championship in the old -75kg class where he bombed with 275kg / 606lb. He looks to be putting the shirt back on for what looks to be a performance that has never been matched by a -66kg lifter, he is certainly one to watch.

This is going to be a very close competition but I can’t look past a very competitive Japanese lifter, I’m picking Fukuda to win with a new WR.

Urusov’s current WR followed by Chuprinko’s winning lift, later overturned due to testing positive, this video shows how good Bench Press competition is!

 

-57kg Women, Current WR: 165kg / 363lb, Fiona Sommer von Bachhaus (Germany)

Two Russians dominate this class with Larisa Kotkova and Anastasia Petrova within 500g of each other on the bench and only 7kg and 7.5kg away from the WR respectively, Kotkova at 158kg / 348lb and Petrova at 157.5kg / 347lb.

Kotkova is the defending champion and is a Master’s 1 lifter with over a decade of international experience in the -57kg and -56kg classes. Her best result is 155kg / 341lb which was her winning bench press at last year’s world championship. Her 155kg lift is the current Master’s 1 WR and she has also held the open WR with her last record being 150kg / 330lb.

Petrova is 11 years younger and looks to be improving at a much faster rate than Kotkova. She is a two-time world champion with her best international result being 145kg / 319lb. Her nomination at 157.5kg gives me a lot of confidence that she is on the rise. Because of this, I’m picking Petrova to finally defeat her rival, however I’m not sure if they’ll get as high as von Bachhaus’ WR.

 No video, unfortunately.

 

-74kg Men, Current WR: 300kg / 661lb, Daiki Kodama (Japan)

Current world record holder, Daiki Kodama is in fine form this year with a raw Bench Press World Championship win earlier in the year along with 3 world records at the Sydney Fitness Show in April. He’s back in the shirt for this meet with a really conservative nomination at 250kg / 551lb, so conservative that I almost thought he wasn’t going. Kodama should comfortably win this meet which will be his 13th Equipped Bench Press World Championship.

Kodama’s best equipped lift, 300.5kg / 662lb, the current Japanese national record.

 

-63kg Women, Current WR: 184kg / 405lb – Fiona Sommer von Bachhaus (Germany)

Currently the best female bench presser in the world, von Bachhaus returns to World’s as defending champion with her incredible 184kg bench which was 3-times bodyweight as well as just over 200 Wilks points which no active female has been able to achieve. She looks comfortable to win her 5th Open Bench Press World Championship! She will be taking this event as a warm-up before the big show, The World Games where she is nominated alongside the great Larysa Soloviova (Ukraine) who will win on total, but will be very close on the bench, Soloviova hit a massive 180kg / 397lb bench which Fiona could not beat, a huge battle on the bench is imminent!

von Bachhaus with her 3-times bodyweight 184kg bench press to win her 4th World Championship in 2016!

 

-83kg Men, Current WR: 310kg / 683lb – Yuki Fukushima (Japan)

What a battle we have here! Last year we had defending champion Yuki Fukushima battle Russian Sergey Kniazev which what looked to be a race for the world record. Fukushima won with 305kg / 672lb with Kniazev bombing with an opener at 307.5kg / 677lb before attempting a new WR missing 311kg / 685lb. The 2017 edition will see Fukushima and Kniazev take battle once again!

Fukushima is a 3 time world champion as well as defending champion and has only just broken his first world record in 2015. Kniazev is also a 3-time world champion but has broken 4 world records, more than any other lifter in this class. Fukushima is 10 years younger than Kniazev and does have a lot of room to grow, considering this and Kniazev’s bombing last year, I like Fukushima for the win.

Yuki Fukushima’s full competition from 2015 where he broke his first world record with 310kg (including warm-ups)!

 

-72kg Women, Current WR: 178kg / 392lb – Ana Castellain (Brazil)

A tight battle looks to be on the cards in the -72kg class with number 1 seed Yulia Chistiakova (Russia) and number 2 seed Tetyana Melnyk (Ukraine) separated by only 2.5kg on nomination.

Chistiakova is a former world record holder in this class with 175.5kg / 386lb done in Sundsvall, Sweden in 2015. Her record was then increased to 177.5kg / 391lb by compatriot Yulia Medvedeva at Equipped World’s in Luxembourg and then was further increased by Ana Castellain’s amazing 178kg lift to eventually win the -72kg world championship! Chistiakova’s recent form has been shaky as she has not been able to reach 170kg / 374lb since her WR in 2015, hitting 167.5kg / 369lb at 2015 Europeans, 160kg / 352lb at 2016 World’s and 165kg / 363lb at 2016 Europeans. Her 172.5kg / 380lb nomination seems to be a return to form and hopefully this continues at the meet.

Melnyk is the current number 1 nomination in the SuperHeavy category for the World Games and will be using this as warm-up for the big show! Melnyk is on her way up from the -63kg class and she will need to be above 72kg in order to be a SuperHeavy at the World Games so her numbers will certainly be on the rise. She last competed internationally at Open World’s in the -84kg class (72.15kg bodyweight) where she benched 170kg! If her form continues I think she will be able to take Chistiakova down, but it will be close.

My pick: Melnyk!

There is a lack of videos for Melnyk, so here is Chistiakova’s WR Bench from 2015 with 175.5kg!

 

-93kg Men, Current WR: 319kg / 703lb, Adam Mamola (USA)

This is another interesting class with current WR holder Adam Mamola the obvious favourite due to form, but defending champion Eduard Tebenkov (Russia) is nominated at a huge 334kg / 736lb! 334kg is only 2kg below the -105kg WR so this is an enormous bench and something which I don’t think Mamola will be able to match. Tebenkov’s 334kg is certainly a legitimate number as it looks like this was done in an equipped bench only meet in Russia, definitely under IPF conditions. His second attempt at 320kg / 705lb was incredibly comfortable and will look to be more than what Mamola is probably capable of.

My pick: Tebenkov for a comfortable victory.

Tebenkov’s 334kg nomination in a meet in Russia!

 

-84kg Women, Current WR: 200kg / 440lb Svetlana Dedyulya (Russia)

Another competition which probably won’t challenge the WR but is certainly going to be full of close competition is the -84kg with 1st seed Ielja Strik (Netherlands) being separated by only 5kg to 4th seed Sofie Josefsson (Sweden). Strik is the obvious choice for the win here but she can be hit and miss on the bench in equipment. She last competed at a Bench World Championship in 2016 where she bombed with her opener at 180kg / 397lb and attempted 187.5kg / 413lb on her third.

My pick, however, is Lyudmila Protchenko (Russia) who is the defending champion from 2016 from Strik’s bombing with 185kg / 407lb. Her nomination at 177.5kg / 391lb seems conservative, maybe second attempt territory. With numbers constantly on the rise in every international competition she has been at, I feel she is in the best position to take down Strik, even though Strik will open higher, possibly ~175kg / 385lb considering it was her best lift at 2017 Equipped World’s. Whoever makes at least 2 lifts will win in my opinion.

There is lack of videos for Protchenko, but here is her best raw bench in competition, 145kg / 319lb, 8.5kg higher than Strik’s raw WR.

 

-105kg Men, Current WR: 336kg / 740lb – Vladimir Grishaev (Russia)

Lots of lifters returning in the -105kg with number 1 seed Aliaksei Stasevich (Belarus) returning to competition following a 2 year absence and number 2 seed Arslan Suyunshailyev (Kazakhstan) returning following a 4 year absence! Lots of former world record holders are in this class too with Vitaliy Kireev (Russia, 327.5kg / 722lb) and Stefan Jamroz (Sweden, 305kg / 672lb). At this meet, Kireev is nominated at 317.5kg / 700lb, also returning from a 2 year absence, while Jamroz is nominated at 320kg / 705lb which is what he achieved at Europeans last year.

However, my pick is all the way down in 8th position, the current WR holder, Vladimir Grishaev. He is nominated at an EXTREMELY conservative 305kg but I expect him to go much higher than this nomination. His 336kg WR looked a bit shaky on lockout last year but he should be good to hold off the other lifters that are close to him. Don’t be surprised however if the Belarusian or the Kazakh give him a run for his money as he will need something over 330kg / 727lb to win in my opinion.

Grishaev’s full meet in 2016, finishing with his WR, 336kg!

 

84kg+ Women, Current WR: 235kg / 518lb, Sandra Lonn (Sweden)

Another lifter nominated at an extremely conservative number is current WR holder Sandra Lonn. Nominated at 200kg / 440lb, just 500g below the top seed Anette Rehoff Christiensen (Denmark), Sandra returns to competition following an up and down 2015 and with no competition in 2016. Lonn is a 5-time world champion and is looking for a solid competition to build momentum for some bigger competitions ahead. I don’t expect an increase to the WR but a certain victory for Lonn.

Lonn at her best! Her current WR at 235kg!

 

-120kg Men, Current WR: 356kg / 784lb, Kevin Jaeger (Germany)

Kevin Jaeger decided to compete in the juniors, more on that in a minute, but my pick for this class is former WR holder and world champion, Sergey Selezen (Russia). He is nominated at 343.5kg / 757lb which looks to be a 500g increase on his national record and former WR. However, his two meets last year looked to be down on his best as he hit 335kg / 738lb for third at World’s and then hit 330kg / 727lb for second at European’s 4 months later (behind Jaeger). With his nomination as high as it is, I am confident he will be able to hold off the Mongolians and a strong Norwegian for victory!

Most recent film of a competition with Selezen, here hitting a new Russian record with 343.5kg in late 2016 in Russia!

 

120kg+ Men, Current WR: 410kg / 904lb, Blaine Sumner (USA)

The final competition, the super heavyweight class for men! No Blaine Sumner at a Bench Press competition, however, the USA have sent their number 2 bencher, defending champion, Jonathan Leo. Leo has been lifting for many years and is a former world record holder as well as a two-time world champion. He has had some epic battles with the Finnish weapon Fredrik Smulter over the years including the video at the beginning of this piece where Smulter hit 400kg followed by Sundsvall, 2015 where Smulter opened at 401kg / 884lb to increase his world record with Leo having to settle for Silver. Leo finally got the better of Smulter in 2016 in Denmark where he needed 392.5kg / 865lb to move into the lead and to stay in the meet, it was all or nothing and he smashed it. Smulter only needed to match Leo to win the world title but his head got the better of him and he went for 402kg / 886lb and missed leading Leo to win the world title and best male lifter. Since Smulter is not the greatest flyer, he will not make the trip to Lithuania for this meet leaving Leo somewhat unchallenged for his third world championship.

Last time he was in Kaunas for a Bench Press competition, Leo won with a then world record 360.5kg / 794lb, let’s hope for more good luck on Leo’s part!

Leo hits an international PB with 392.5kg which gave him the win at the 2016 World Championships ahead of Smulter.

 

Honourable Mentions

Daniela Kolesnik (Russia, -57kg)

The biggest female sub-junior bench presser at this meet is an 18 year old -57kg lifter who is on fire in her bench press career! She is currently the equipped 3-lift and single-lift world record holder in this class with 130kg / 286lb and 140kg / 308lb, respectively. The 140kg lift is just 6kg off the OPEN world record currently held by Sri Hartati (Indonesia). She also has 13 other world records in bench press and 3-lift competition to her name since she started competing internationally in 2013. Certainly an upcoming lifter for the junior division and possibly the open division in a few years and definitely a lifter to watch!

 

Kolesnik with her best single-lift bench press, 140kg / 308lb at the World Championships last year.

 

Ryuki Fujimoto (Japan, 120kg+)

Ryuki exploded onto the scene when he went to the 2015 Bench Press World Championship in Sundsvall, Sweden as a 15 year old and smashed the -105kg WR (as well as junior) with a 295kg / 650lb effort which was out of this world! He hasn’t competed much since then but he is back in the shirt as a super heavyweight to try and break the super heavyweight world record, currently at 300kg / 661lb, and therefore bench the largest weight ever by a sub-junior. He has put up some incredible lifts in training, including numbers above 350kg and an attempt at 400kg so make sure you watch what this kid can do, he will only turn 17 this year!

Fujimoto’s meet in 2015, finishing at 295kg!

 

Kevin Jaeger (Germany, 120kg+)

Usually a -120kg lifter, Jaeger is continuing in the 120kg+ class after his incredible performance at the Arnold Sports Festival where he increased the junior WR single-lift bench press 35kg above a bench press legend in Viktor Testsov (Ukraine) to 392.5kg / 865lb! This lift surpassed Blaine Sumner's 410kg / 904lb bench on Wilks which makes Kevin the best bench presser in the world at the moment! Will he be the first junior lifter to hit the magic 400kg / 881lb mark? Knowing the type of person Kevin is, he will certainly try it! A lifter with outstanding talent and strategy in equipped lifting as he will wear a shirt that is traditionally made for -83kg to -93kg lifters, super tight!

At only 22 years old in 2017, Kevin has one more year in juniors before he must compete as an open and I don’t think he will be slowing down anytime soon. Kevin has also just become a father with another German powerhouse, Sonja-Stefanie Krueger, so he could come in extremely exhausted, or high on life. Time will tell.

Jaeger's current junior WR set at 392.5kg at only 128.11kg bodyweight for the largest equipped bench Wilks in the IPF with 222.59 points!

 

So many incredible lifters have decided to make the journey to Lithuania for one of the most hotly contested Bench Press World Championships ever ran. The Championships are currently being broadcast live through Goodlift here, time table for all events can be found here and nominations for males and females can be found here for males and here for females. My picks for best lifter… Kodama for the males and von Bachhaus for the females!

 

Next up on the blog, one of the biggest events of the year, the 2017 IPF Classic World Championships! It will be done in two parts, one for males and one for females and will showcase my picks for the each weight class and the lifters to watch, do not miss that!

 

Until next time, train hard, train smart and dominate on the platform.

 

Tim Davies – Team PB Powerlifting

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