All you need to know about the 2019 World Open Powerlifting Championships

The headline event of the International Powerlifting Federation calendar will be hosted in Dubai from 18-23 November and streamed live on Olympic Channel

By Sanjeev Palar

Powerlifting - the strength sport!

The 2019 World Open Powerlifting Championships take place in Dubai's Hamdan Sports Complex from 18-23 November.

This growing international sport sees athletes compete against the force of iron as well as other athletes.

Practised in over 100 countries on all continents, this year's edition of the annual competition will see over 300 athletes from 60 nations showcase their pure strength in pursuit of the title.

Here's a quick guide to get you up to speed before streaming the competition live on Olympic Channel.

Powerlifting vs Weightlifting

Firstly, it is important to note that powerlifting is NOT Olympic weightlifting. And here's why.

Weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 consists of two disciplines: the snatch, and the clean and jerk.

Powerlifting involves athletes competing in three specific disciplines, each designed to measure different areas of human strength.

The three powerlifts are the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

These are increasingly being recognised as principal exercises in the development of an individual's strength, and can contribute to bodily health and general well-being.

The total weight of each athlete's best lift in each of the three disciplines determines the winner.

Powerlifting is part of the Paralympic Games with athletes competing in the bench press.

Classic vs Equipped powerlifting

There are two categories of powerlifting with separate competitions.

They are classic (also known as 'raw') and equipped powerlifting.

The clue is in the name with equipped competitors permitted to wear squat/deadlift suits and knee wraps to aid their lifting.

Like the World Games, the World Open Championships is an 'equipped' event.

Powerlifting: Bench Press

World Open Powerlifting Championships Competition Rules

There are eight men's and seven women's weight categories at the World Open Championships.

The men's range from 59kg to +120kg with the women's going from 47kg to +84kg.

Participants have three attempts to successfully complete a lift in each of the three disciplines which are run in contest order - squat, bench press then deadlift.

The combined total weight of the best lift in each discipline determines the winner.

While pure strength is extremely important, strategy also comes into play.

Prior to starting each discipline, each athlete must nominate their weight for their first lift of each of the three disciplines.

An opening failure piles the pressure on as the lifter cannot reduce the weight on the bar for subsequent attempts.

Three failures in any discipline results in automatic disqualification.

In the final round, the deadlift, lifters will attempt weights which will not only put them into medal-winning positions but also put pressure on their rivals.

As in the clean and jerk in Olympic weightlifting, it can lead to thrilling finishes with athletes putting it all on the line on their final attempt.

Yukako Fukushima with a successful deadlift at the 2017 World Games in Wroclaw

Eyes down for a super-heavyweight battle

It could be a case of saving the best for last with the men's over-120kg class bringing proceedings to an end in Dubai.

Two men have dominated this weight class in recent years, and look set to lock horns once again.

Reigning champion Andrey Konovalov will defend the title that he won in Halmstad, Sweden last year.

The Russian is a three-time world champion having been previously victorious in 2013 and 2015.

Standing between the 32-year-old and a fourth crown will be his perennial rival, Blaine Sumner.

Sumner's 1,000-calorie shake

Sumner holds the world record for the all-time heaviest equipped squat, bench press and total.

He became the first American male to clinch the IPF Classic World Championship, winning the title in 2012.

Four years later, he claimed his first IPF World Open Powerlifting Championship crown.

Sumner should have won gold at the 2017 World Games after building a big lead in the squat and bench press, but failed with all three attempts in the deadlift to leave Wroclaw empty-handed.

Known as the "Vanilla Gorilla" Sumner has become famous not only for this strength but also for his unusual diet.

He shared with BarBend that he drinks a 1,000-calorie shake eight times a day because eating that amount of food takes too long, explaining, "by the time I'm done it's an hour before I have to eat again".

The shakes are made up of chicken, rice, egg whites spinach, olive oil and water - and provide all the nutrients that he needs to maintain his nearly 180kg frame.

"I can get in the same amount of macros and calories I need, and it takes 10 seconds." - Blaine Sumner to

Time will tell if Sumner's shakes will help him lift a second world title.

Making powerlifting history

Poland's Jaroslaw Olech jointly holds the record for most World Open Powerlifting titles with 17 to his name.

Undefeated in the under-74kg category since 2011, Olech is poised to break that tie with Japan's Hideaki Inaba by claiming world title number 18 in Dubai.

The 45-year-old has proved that age is no barrier in this sport, and even has three World Games gold medals to prove it including gold on home soil in Wroclaw in 2017.

Russia's pocket rocket Sergey Fedosienko has reigned supreme in the men's minimum weight division for the last 15 years.

At just 1.46m tall, the 36-year-old is practically invincible at under-59kg and currently has 13 World Open titles to his name.

Pound-for-pound he is one of the strongest men in the world and is equally dominant in both Classic and Equipped powerlifting.

Having claimed his sixth consecutive World Classic title in June to take his career tally to 22 global titles, it would be a shock if Fedosienko did not retain his crown from Halmstad 12 months ago to make it 14 World Open titles.

Another athlete looking to continue her winning streak is Russia's Natalia Salnikova.

The Russian has won nine of the last 10 women's under-52kg titles, and is on a winning streak dating back to 2011.

If her training videos are anything to go by, she's not showing any signs of letting up anytime soon.

Also looking to continue her winning ways is Larysa Soloviova.

The Ukrainian has eight World Open titles to her name as well as the highest Wilks score (a calculation working out the best pound-for-pound lifter) in IPF women's history.

She is such a force to be reckoned with that she usually beats her opponents by at least 30kg in total.

Soloviova also has four World Games titles, taking victory in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

The 40-year-old holds the world record in all three individual disciplines in the under-63kg class - squat (241kg), bench press (180.5kg) and deadlift (245kg) - and the total WR of 643kg.

She set those deadlift and total world records in last year's World Open in Halmstad where she beat Italy's Classic world champion Carola Garra into second place.

USA's Bonica Brown is in a league of her own in the over-84kg class.

The squat is where she is most dominant, setting a new world record of 318kg at the Worlds 12 months ago on her way to improving her combined world record by 20kg to 783kg.

Now 31, Brown admitted to personal problems after retaining her classic world title in June.

But it's hard to see anyone stopping her clinching a fourth consecutive World Open crown.

2019 IPF World Open Powerlifting Championships schedule (all times Dubai local / Gulf Standard Time, UTC+4):

18 November

11:00 Men's 59kg followed by men's 66kg

17:00 Women's 47kg followed by women's 52kg

19 November

12:00 Women's 57kg

17:00 Men's 74kg

20 November

10:00 Men's 83kg

14:00 Women's 63kg

17:00 Men's 93kg

21 November

12:00 Women's 72kg

17:00 Men's 105kg

22 November

11:00 Women's 84kg

17:00 Men's 120kg

23 November

11:00 Women's +84kg

13:00 Men's +120kg