| Tim Davies

The 2017 Women’s World Games: A Preview

The World Games is, at present, the pinnacle of an Equipped Powerlifter’s career. Much like the Olympics, the World Games comes along every four years and is always one year after the Olympics are held. Some events that are in the Olympic programme right now have started from the World Games with the newest sports introduced; Karate, Surfing and Rugby Seven’s were all former sports in The World Games! If we want to get into the Olympic programme, we need to have a good showing at this event because it has happened before with other sports and with the turmoil surrounding Weightlifting at present, we could provide a better alternative!

Now, there are a few differences with how the competition works compared to the usual competition that we see at World Championships for example, these are:

  • There are combined weight classes.

       This means that the -47kg and -52kg classes are combined to make the ‘Lightweight’ category, the -57kg and -63kg classes are combined to make the ‘Middleweight’ category, the -72kg class is left by itself to make the ‘Heavyweight’ category and the -84kg and 84kg+ classes make the ‘Super Heavyweight’ category.

  • All medals are decided on Wilks.

       Due to the combining of weight classes, all medals are decided by Wilks, including individual lift medals. This makes coaching an athlete that much harder as attempt selection needs to be in relation to the amount of Wilks points earned rather than the absolute total in kilograms.

  • Results from the 2016 Open World Championships are the qualifying standard.

       It doesn’t matter what they did during the year, an athlete’s placing at the 2016 Equipped Open World Championships decide their selection. Due to Russia’s ban from entering more than 2 athletes at World’s in the men’s division, only the two athletes that competed (Fedosienko and Inzarkin) are eligible. There are some wildcard entries which are at the discretion of the IPF and member nations.

  • World records can be chipped, pending the athlete is still under the normal weight limit like any meet.

       For example, at the 2013 World Games, Yukako Fukushima (-47kg, Japan) benched 126kg / 277lb at 46.33kg / 102lb bodyweight to win the bench press competition. If she was 47.1kg / 103lb in bodyweight, she would have still been eligible to compete in the meet (due to the -52kg class being involved as well) but she would not have been able to set any -47kg world records.

The location is Wrocław (pronounced ‘Vrotslav’), the fourth largest city in Poland behind Łódź, Kraków and, the capital, Warsaw.

We now know the subtle differences between the World Games and the World Championships, now let’s delve into the incredible names that are going to grace the platform in Wrocław for the biggest meet of the year!

 

Lightweight (-47kg to -52kg). My pick: Wei-Ling Chen (Chinese Taipei)

Image supplied by the International Powerlifting Federation

This class is stacked with the top 3 lifters all being former open world champions with two World Games Champions. The three world champions are Wei-Ling Chen, Yukako Fukushima (Japan) and Natalia Salnikova (Russia) while Chen (2009) and Salnikova (2013) are the former World Games champions. Salnikova is the defending World Games champion having defeated Chen by 17 Wilks points back in 2013. Chen, however, is the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion in Weightlifting following a string of failed drug tests and is the only lifter to win gold in Weightlifting at the Olympics and gold in Powerlifting at the World Games. This class also has former classic world champion Maria Luisa Vasquez (Puerto Rico) and the current open WR holder in bench press in the -52kg class, junior lifter Maria Dominguez (Venezuela).

Dominguez’s 145kg / 319lb Bench Press from 2016 Open World’s!

Squat                                                                                            

Picking individual lift winners is extremely difficult due to the winner being solely decided by Wilks but I’m pretty confident that Chen will take the lead on squat. Her 210kg / 462lb squat last year is equal to Salnikova’s best ever squat from 2015, weighing 6kg less than Salnikova, and higher than another other lifter in this class so she should take the lead quite comfortably. Salnikova hasn’t been able to replicate her form from 2014 and 2015 where, in 2016, she was left on a 195kg / 429lb squat, missing 205kg / 451lb twice.

Chen’s epic 210kg / 462lb squat from the 2016 Open World’s!

Bench Press

Bench is incredibly close! Two lifters stand out for me, the former WR holder in the -47kg class, Yukako Fukushima (Japan) and current WR holder in the -52kg class, Maria Dominguez. Based on their performances from 2016, Dominguez’s 145kg / 319lb WR was three Wilks points ahead of Fukushima’s 132kg / 291lb WR lift. Now consider this, the 2017 World Games is Dominguez’s first World Games and second open world-level competition while this is Fukushima’s 5th World Games! Experience is a large influence at this calibre of competition and I think Fukushima will be able hold off Dominguez, mainly through coaching strategy. The Venezuelan's didn’t seem to consider the current WR before adding 7.5kg to it in 2016, risks like that are easily pounced upon by an athlete and coaching staff that have been in the game for at least 16 years at the international level. Fun fact, Fukushima hit 117.5kg / 259lb as a 31 year old lifter in 2001 and has managed to add 14.5kg to her bench in 16 years, longevity is key in this sport!

Fukushima’s best ever bench press with 132kg at the 2016 IPF Open World Championship. 

Deadlift and Total

Chen looks good to take the deadlift gold as well having hit 185kg / 407lb in 2016 which is also what Salnikova hit to win the -52kg world championship. Both lifters have a best deadlift in international competition of 190kg / 418lb and because Chen is lighter, her Wilks coefficient will be larger and she will win. I can’t see anyone who will get close to Chen or Salnikova so Chen should win this event.

The real battle is on total and I’m picking Chen for the overall win. Her nominated Wilks 675.0 from 2016 World’s and is 31 points above Fukushima and 36 points above Salnikova. Her performance at 2016 World’s was nothing short of amazing and if it weren’t for Larysa Soloviova (Ukraine), she would have been the best lifter of the year. Chen is truly a legend of the sport, a deserved IPF Hall of Fame athlete and will certainly put on a show to hopefully win her second World Games!

Chen’s full meet of her nominated 675.0 Wilks from the 2016 Open World Championships, 500kg / 1,102lb total at 46.75kg / 103lb bodyweight.

 

Middleweight (-57kg to -63kg). My pick: Larysa Soloviova (Ukraine)

Image supplied by the International Powerlifting Federation

The lifter that dominates the middleweight category and has for many years is Larysa Soloviova, owner of the largest Wilks by a female lifter in IPF history (689.07) with an insane nomination of 688.5! Soloviova is a 3-time World Games champion and is the only lifter nominated that has ever won a World Games title. Much like the Lightweight class, multiple world champions are nominated in this class. 2011 Equipped World Champion and 2013 Classic World Champion, Anna Ryzhkova (Russia) is nominated second with 638.0 while 2006 and 2008 Equipped World Champion and 5-time Bench Press World Champion, Gundula Fiona Sommer von Bachhaus (Germany), is nominated 4th with 620.2 points and is looking for bench press honours. Let’s see how each lift breaks down!

Squat

Squat is going to be extremely close actually! On the face of it, it does look like Soloviova has it covered, being the WR holder in the -63kg class with 241kg / 531lb, however the -57kg WR, at 222.5kg / 490lb held by Inna Filimonova (Russia), is separated by only 1 Wilks point. Meaning if a lifter adds to the existing WR (pending bodyweight), they should probably take the gold. Soloviova’s closest rival will be WR holder in squat in the -52kg class, Vilma Vargas Ochoa (Ecuador). Ochoa matched the WR last year at Equipped World’s at only 55.79kg bodyweight, lighter than Filimonova when she set the WR. It’s going to go down to the wire but Soloviova’s experience at this level of competition is unmatched in this class, I like Soloviova for squat gold!

Soloviova’s 241kg squat from the 2016 Open World Championships! 

Bench Press

Soloviova is up there on bench as well however she is up against the best female equipped bench presser of all-time (only female to hit a 200+ Wilks and the first to hit 3 times bodyweight), Gundula Fiona Sommer von Bachhaus (Germany). As mentioned above, von Bachhaus is a 5-time equipped bench press world champion with a best lift of 184kg / 405lb in single-lift competition and 172kg / 379lb in 3-lift competition. Soloviova, however, has had her bench skyrocket over the past two years, being stuck at 162.5kg / 358lb to 168kg / 370lb for 7 years, she hit 170kg / 374lb for the first time at 2015 Equipped Europeans then hit a huge 180kg / 397lb at 2016 World’s, the current -63kg 3-lift WR. I don’t know how much further Soloviova can go with her bench in only 8 months whereas von Bachhaus certainly has room to grow in 3-lift competition. von Bachhaus to win gold here!

 von Bachhaus’ 184kg bench from the 2016 Equipped Bench Press World Championship.

Deadlift and Total

Deadlift is why Soloviova wins meets. Her best and current WR, 245kg / 540lb, was done way back in 2011 and since then she has struggled for form, unlike her other lifts, going as low as 210kg / 462lb at 2015 Equipped Europeans. She seems to have been stuck at 220kg / 485lb to 230kg / 507lb in recent years but it has always been enough to win deadlift gold and win on total. Whatever she deadlifts she will win the meet with her huge Wilks sub-total so the battle for deadlift gold will be a bit more interesting.

Soloviova’s 641kg WR Total from the 2016 Open World Championships!

Going off Soloviova’s 220kg lift from last year, she could certainly have a few lifters challenge her. I think the bolter is Egdimar Ruiz (Venezuela, -57kg) who won the deadlift gold last year with 205kg / 451lb at only 54.58kg bodyweight for 246.04 Wilks points on a second attempt, 10 points above Soloviova’s 220kg at the same meet. The WR in the -57kg class is standard at 210kg / 462lb so we could see someone finally surpass the record which no one has done since the WR’s were reset in 2011. Ruiz to definitely surprise a few here!

Ruiz smashes a 205kg second attempt at the 2016 Open World Championships, her first world championship.

Heavyweight (-72kg). My pick: Ana Castellain (Brazil)

Image supplied by the International Powerlifting Federation

Moving on to the Heavyweight category which is essentially just the -72kg class which will showcase one of my favourite battles in the female program, Ribic vs. Castellain vs. Elverum, as I call the past, present and future of the -72kg class. I’m picking Castellain here as she is the defending champion and usually defeats Ribic on Wilks at World Championships because she is usually lighter. However, this will be Ribic’s 4th World Games and she is yet to win one finishing third to Castellain last year, third in 2009 to Soloviova and Italian legend Antonietta Orsini and second to Soloviova (her maiden name of Vitsiyevska is on the scoresheet) again in 2005, so this will be her best chance yet.

Squat

The one weight class that is quite easy to judge, Ana Castellain is the current gold medalist from 2016 World’s with 250kg / 551lb and the current WR holder with 255kg / 562lb. Castellain is in her best form yet coming from Minsk with the Classic WR in squat with 196kg / 432lb, holding off former WR holder Isabella von Weissenberg in doing so. Equipped lifting is certainly her priority and I expect her to bring her greatest form ever into this meet and hopefully she can extend her WR which was set way back in Stavanger, 2013. She won’t have it easy though, Ribic hit an enormous PB and M1 WR at World’s last year with 245kg / 540lb which is certainly competitive if Castellain has a sub-par day.

Castellain’s current WR squat at 255kg from Stavanger!

Bench Press

Bench will be a bit closer. Castellain pulled a Soloviova and had her bench skyrocket in a very small amount of time. Having her best bench done in Stavanger with 172.5kg / 380lb, she then chipped Yulia Medvedeva’s (Russia) 3-lift and single-lift WR with 178kg / 392lb on a third attempt after she missed 175kg / 392lb, it was a lift she needed in order to hold off Ribic. Medvedeva will be her main rival here, the former WR holder but is coming off almost bombing at 2016 World’s so her nominated Bench Wilks of 161.76 (compared to Castellain's 177.61) is a definitely lower than her potential. It looked like she was having trouble with her shirt so if that is sorted she will certainly be close to Castellain. She usually weighs-in lighter than Castellain so if she matches Castellain’s attempts, she should win the gold.

Castellain’s 178kg WR Bench Press from 2016 Equipped World’s!

Deadlift and Total

Castellain relies on a massive sub-total to win meets, this means she is not a great deadlifter and this is where Ribic shines as well as the future of this class, Marte Elverum (Norway). Ribic is the current WR holder with 248kg / 546lb which was set at the 2015 Master’s World Championships and she has looked good for more but she has had to pull 247.5kg / 545lb twice to beat Castellain in 2014 and 2015 before attempting 248.5kg / 547lb in 2016 but missing, giving Castellain the win. Ribic may need to take a big jump from her second attempt to try and overtake Castellain which opens the door for other lifters such as Elverum to win the deadlift gold. Elverum is the runner-up on deadlift at last year’s World’s to Ribic with 240kg / 529lb and certainly looks good for more and possibly the WR. She attempted to chip her European record with 240.5kg / 530lb at the most recent Equipped European Championships but missed twice due to balance issues but the strength was certainly there. She even attempted 250kg / 551lb at the recent Norwegian championships but missed about half way up. I still like Ribic for deadlift gold as she will be much lighter than Elverum and should be able to hold her off.

Ribic’s full meet from the 2015 Master’s World Championship including her 248kg deadlift open WR.

The total is going to go down to the wire like the previous three World Championships but I do like Castellain for the win. She should weigh-in lighter than Ribic which is a big advantage in a meet that is solely decided by Wilks. In my opinion, Castellain’s sub-total should be too large to track down, only if she deadlifts well.

Super Heavyweight (-84kg and 84kg+). My pick: Tetyana Melnyk (Ukraine)

Image supplied by the International Powerlifting Federation

The Super Heavyweight class is essentially the 72.01kg+ class, which I don’t necessarily like as a ‘Super Heavyweight’ category, anyway, moving forward. The number one nomination is someone that you wouldn’t expect, Ukraine’s Tetyana Melnyk. The issue with the heavier lifters is that their Wilks coefficient is quite low so if a lifter in the -72kg class is cracking a 600 Wilks (which isn’t enough to beat Castellain and Ribic), they certainly have a chance to beat the Super’s, this certainly is Ukraine’s strategy here. Melnyk is the current Bench Press World Champion with 175kg / 385lb in the -72kg class and whilst she finished 4th at Equipped World’s last year, she beat the likes of Liane Blyn (USA) and Ielja Strik (Netherlands) on Wilks which doesn’t matter at a World Championship, but it’s the only thing that matters at the World Games.

Squat

Melnyk is certainly competitive on squat with her nominated 237.5kg / 523lb but I like Bonica Lough (USA) following her easy 297.5kg / 655lb squat at last year’s World’s. Bonica comes in to her first World Games as the best 84kg+ lifter and will need to squat big if she wants to place as high as possible on the total. The 297.5kg was easy to say the least and she could certainly challenge for the WR which is currently 310kg / 683lb held by Olga Gemaletdinova (Russia) which has been set since 2011. The other lifter who may be close is Ukraine’s Yevheniia Tishakova who squatted a huge 262.5kg / 578lb last year which is the heaviest squat in the -84kg class since Olena Kozlova (Ukraine) squatted the 268kg / 590lb WR. Tishakova could also be good for the WR but her 262.5kg was tough, very tough. I still like Lough for victory but she will need something close to the WR to hold off the Ukrainians.

 Lough’s full meet from the 2016 Equipped World’s including her 297.5kg squat!

Bench Press

The bench is dominated by Liane Blyn (USA). A M1 lifter, her current open WR is 191kg / 421lb and will be clearly ahead of everyone if she is on form. If she isn’t on form, Melnyk could certainly overtake her as their best bench presses in competition are only separated by 4 Wilks points. This was calculated based off Melnyk’s 175kg bench at 72.00kg bodyweight at 2017 Bench World’s whereas her best in a 3-lift meet is 170kg / 374lb at 72.15kg at 2016 World’s. It’s certainly going to be a battle between Blyn and Melnyk but I like Blyn as she is in form in 3-lift competitions following her WR only 4 months ago while Melnyk has not competed this year. Blyn for gold!

No video of the 191kg bench but here is Blyn’s best at a World Championship, 188kg / 414lb at the 2015 Equipped World Championships.

Deadlift and Total

Deadlift is tough to judge, but I like Melnyk to take the honours as she will need to deadlift big to take the overall title. Her nominated deadlift is 202.5kg / 446lb from last year and it was a tough lift. It was her second attempt in this meet before she missed her third at 207.5kg / 457lb. Her 202.5kg deadlift gave her 197 Wilks points and I don’t see many lifters getting close to that. The one lifter that I think may get close is Liane Blyn with a best deadlift on the world stage at 225kg / 496lb but has also pulled 227.5kg / 501lb in the U.S. so if she is good for something near that, she should overtake Melnyk.

Blyn’s 2016 USAPL National Championship performance including a 227.5kg deadlift that will certainly win her the deadlift championship.

On total, I still like Melnyk as she seems to perform better at World level meets, Blyn’s nominated Wilks is 593.4 which was done at the Arnold’s in March which is on her home turf. Melnyk’s nomination of 594.6 came from 2016 World’s in Orlando which is a 15 hour flight from Ukraine (Kiev) and with the standard of lifters attending the World Games, small things like recovery from flights has an effect. Melnyk seems to handle the flights much better than Blyn and that is the main reason why I like Melnyk over Blyn. Blyn will always attempt her lifts after Melnyk so Blyn will have the last say in all lifts. If Blyn has the meet of her life, I don’t think Melnyk will be able to reply.

 

Melnyk’s performance at 2016 Equipped World’s with a 610kg / 1,344lb total at 72.15kg bodyweight for a 594.6 Wilks, the highest Wilks in the -84kg division with more to be lifted!

 

There we have it! We’re all ready to go for the Women’s Championship at the World Games and I don’t know about you, but I am incredibly excited for how this event this goes as I can almost guarantee that the IOC will be watching and more importantly, assessing our credentials!

At this stage I am not sure how the World Games will be televised, I assume it will be through Goodlift but there is no link for it yet. In the meantime, the nominations for the women’s championship are here. The next blog will preview the men’s championships in just under two weeks.

The Powerlifting event at the World Games is set to commence on July 24 and will run until July 26!

 

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

 

Tim Davies – Team PB Powerlifting

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