World Classic Powerlifting Championships 2019 - Things you may have missed

World records tumbled in Helsingborg as Taylor Atwood, Amanda Lawrence, and Kim Walford shone, but Ray Williams bombed out early.

By Rory Jiwani

The 7th World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Helsingborg witnessed five days of spectacular sporting action.

The best raw powerlifters in the world assembled in Sweden with the United States coming out on top overall in both men's and women's events.

Read on for our day-by-day breakdown and highlights recapping the event streamed live on Olympic Channel.

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Ray Williams was expected to round off the event with his sixth consecutive World Classic title in the super heavyweight +120kg class.

But powerlifting's 'Optimus Prime' failed three times at his opening squat weight of 440.0kg, with Nauru's Jezza Uepa taking victory.

That was a rare disappointment for the American team as Taylor Atwood produced the best men's weight-adjusted score of the week at -74kg, with fellow American Amanda Lawrence doing the same in the women's after an epic duel with compatriot Daniella Melo at -84kg.

Another monumental clash came in the women's -57kg competition with World Championship debutante Meghan Scanlon pipped to overall gold by Maria Htee despite setting three world records.

Russia's Sergey Fedosienko won his 22nd global title to underline his claim to be the greatest lightweight lifter in the history of the sport.

After missing last year's competition in Calgary, Kimberly Walford returned to win her sixth gold in the seven-year history of the World Classic Championships.

And Bonica Brown made it six wins in a row in the women's +84kg super-heavyweight division.

Day 1 - Tuesday 11th June

Fedosienko on top again at -59kg

There are few certainties in sport, but Sergey Fedosienko winning powerlifting world titles is one of them.

At 1.46m, the Russian may be small in stature but he is pound-for-pound one of the strongest men in the world and can bench-press three times his body weight.

Fedosienko is rare in that he is equally dominant in Classic (or raw) powerlifting and the Equipped version where athletes can wear squat and deadlift suits, special shirts for bench presses and knee wraps.

The 36-year-old shows no sign of loosening his grip on top spot in the lightest weight category in the sport, winning his sixth consecutive World Classic title having missed the first competition in 2013.

He also won the 2012 World Men's Classic Cup to take his tally of global raw titles to seven.

Add his 13 World Open Championship titles and two World Games crowns in Equipped powerlifting, and he now has a grand total of 22 global titles.

He did not have to be at his best in Helsingborg, but he was first in both the squat and the bench press as he finished on 635.0kg, more than 30 kg clear of Ecuador's Franklin Leon.

Japan's Ayume Hisatsune took third in a new world junior record total, just ahead of American Kole Metts.

At just 20, Metts was the best deadlifter in the field with 250.0kg which gave him the world junior record minutes before Hisatsune surpassed it.

Men's -59kg podium (L-R): runner-up Franklin Leon, champion Sergey Fedosienko, third-placed Ayumi Hisatsune

Rest of Day 1

The world records started falling in the very first event of the competition, the women's -47kg.

It came down to a battle between reigning European champion Noemie Allabert and 2017 World Classic victor Heather Connor.

With Connor holding the world record in the deadlift, Frenchwoman Allabert knew she needed something special to take gold.

After succeeding at 160.0kg, she failed at 167.5kg which left the pair level on total lifted but Connor's lighter body weight meant she was champion again.

That left the path clear for the American to attempt a new world record of 176.0kg with her final attempt, and she made it much to the delight of the crowd.

Simone Lal took bronze for Canada, beating Finland's Hanna Rantala by virtue of her marginally lower body weight.

Joy Nnamani retained her -52kg title with a dominant performance to set a new world record for total weight.

The Briton stamped her authority on the field from the start, setting a new European record of 152.5kg in the squat.

Joy Nnamani squats 152.5kg, a new European record, on her way to her second consecutive -52kg World Classic title

Nnamani's bench press of 87.5kg was also an improvement on her effort from her total world record set last year in Calgary.

And she deadlifted 192.5kg to set a new mark of 432.5kg.

Marisa Inda of the United States was 20kg behind in second with Russia's Olga Golubeva taking the bronze.

Day 2 - Wednesday 12th June

Htee pips Scanlon in dramatic women's -57kg contest

One of the best competitions of the week was between the United States and Canada.

Former Ironman triathlete and marathon runner Meghan Scanlon had promised great things in training, and she delivered on the big stage.

Competing in her first World Championships, the strength and fitness coach failed with her first attempt at a new world record squat of 175.0kg before making it at the second attempt.

Maria Htee failed at 175.5kg before Scanlon went even higher, taking her record to 178.0kg.

The American extended her advantage with a world record bench press of 115.5kg, taking a lead to 18.5kg into the deadlift.

Scanlon made more history with her first deadlift giving her a world record total, and her second lift of 177.5kg increased that mark to 471.0kg.

But Htee, who took bronze last year at -63kg and -57kg silver in 2017, was not finished.

The Canadian deadlifted 180.0kg in the first round before failing at 190.0kg.

With Scanlon unable to lift 180.0kg on her final attempt, Htee needed a big personal best of 197.5kg to take gold.

Somehow she managed it, becoming the first Canadian woman to take victory at the World Classic Championships.

Despite setting three world records, Scanlon had to settle for silver although she is sure to win more hardware as she gains experience to go with her obvious talent.

Bobbie Butters of Britain took bronze in a new European record.

Rest of Day 2

Charles Okpoko showed huge promise as an Equipped lifter, but has really come into his own since switching to raw.

After taking bronze behind Fedosienko in the lightweight division at the 2017 World Games, the American claimed his first World Classic title in Calgary last year.

And he retained his -66kg crown in style, smashing his world record in the squat twice before doing the same to his own total mark.

In round two of the squat, Okpoko squatted 255.5kg to beat his own previous best set in Calgary by 2.5kg.

But he blew that clean out of the water with his final attempt, lifting 263.0kg - exactly four times his body weight - to take a commanding lead.

Judging by the ease with which he performed that lift, he could go even higher in the near future.

There was disappointment for the home crowd as the occasion got the better of Eddie Berglund.

The Swede would have been hoping to beat his own world record of 213.5kg in the bench press, but he was eliminated after failing three times at 205.0kg.

Okpoko pressed 170.0kg, again better than in last year's competition, and the 23-year-old eclipsed his world record total with his second deadlift.

And when he completed his third of 272.5kg, the best in the field, he became the first man in the history of the -66kg division to exceed 700kg with a total of 705.5kg.

Okpoko was more than 20kg clear of multiple Equipped world champions, Hsieh Tsung-Ting of Chinese Taipei and Russia's Sergey Gladikh.

There were more world records in the women's -63kg with France's Prescilla Bavoil getting the better of her squat duel with Carola Garra with 188.0kg.

Bavoil would eventually take bronze as Italian Garra triumphed with a new total world record of 503.0kg, becoming the first -63kg female lifter to break the 500kg barrier.

Sam Calhoun of the United States took silver thanks to a deadlift of 217.5kg, but failed with an attempt at 228.5kg which would have smashed her own world record and taken her ahead of Garra overall.

Day 3 - Thursday 13th June

Atwood in a league of his own

Day 3 started with a bang as American Taylor Atwood put up the men's performance of the week at -74kg.

He broke the squat world record with 276.5kg on his second attempt and then smashed it on his third with 283.0kg.

Atwood then posted three successful bench presses with his last one of 195.0kg again the best in the field.

And he brought his perfect display to an end with 312.5kg in the deadlift.

Nine attempts, nine successful lifts and a new world record of 790.5kg for a weight-adjusted IPF score of 881.74 which was the best of the championships.

Kjell Egil Bakkelund of Norway took the silver ahead of Russia's Konstantin Dunin.

Six of the best for Walford

Kimberly Walford joined Fedosienko on six Classic world titles with victory in the -72kg class.

Walford, who had won all of her previous titles for USA, wanted to represent the US Virgin Islands in Calgary last year but was barred from doing so by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

At the start of 2019, the IPF approved the switch and Walford returned to try to regain her crown in Helsingborg.

Sweden's Isabella von Weissenberg delighted the home crowd with a world record 203.3kg in the squat.

She was second after the bench press behind Brazil's defending champion Ana Castellain, a two-time World Games gold medallist, with Walford down in fifth.

But 37-year-old Walford is the deadlift world record holder and she produced the goods yet again with 242.5kg in the final round, a Masters world best, to beat Canada's Jessica Buettner by 2.5kg.

Von Weissenberg took bronze with Castellain missing out on the medals after a last-round failure in the deadlift.

It was the closest competition of the week with just 15kg separating the top five.

Like Fedosienko, Walford won the World Cup in 2012 so this win made it seven global raw titles.

Orhii reaches the summit

Russel Orhii followed Atwood in taking gold with two new world records in the -83kg division.

Orhii was runner-up to Brett Gibbs in Calgary 12 months ago but turned the tables on the New Zealander in Helsingborg.

He started in style, twice breaking the world record in the squat with his final effort a massive 313.0kg.

Gibbs closed the gap with 210.0kg in the bench press, although top honours in that discipline went to Britain's Owen Hubbard who set a new world record of 215.5kg.

Orhii led Gibbs by just 3kg going into the deadlift, and the gold was still up for grabs as both men lifted 315.0kg on their second attempts.

But Gibbs failed at 322.5kg before Orhii deadlifted 325.0kg to set a new world record total of 833.0kg, breaking his rival's previous mark from last year by 2.5kg.

Bronze went to Algeria's Fatah Toubal with the deadlift world record broken twice at the end of the competition.

Kafui Hotsonyame lifted 326.0kg in the final round, but the Canadian's record lasted just over a minute as Erik Karlsson brought the home crowd to its feet with 326.5kg.

Day 4 - Friday 14th June

Lawrence beats Melo in titanic tussle

The women's -84kg was billed as an all-American duel between Amanda Lawrence and Daniella Melo, and it certainly lived up to the hype.

World records were demolished at every turn in what was perhaps the greatest powerlifting competition in history.

The pair had met in last October's USAPL Raw Nationals, both exceeding American records in each discipline as Melo came out on top.

It was Lawrence who struck first in Helsingborg, obliterating Melo's previous squat world record of 213.0kg with 230.5kg on her first attempt.

She then succeeded at 243.0kg in round two before failing at 248.0kg.

Melo had three successes in the squat, posting a best of 230.0kg, before hitting back in the bench press.

After setting a world junior record of 132.5kg in round two, the 20-year-old pressed 137.0kg for a new world record and the overall lead by 6.5kg.

They then proceeded to exchange world records in the deadlift.

Lawrence went first with 231.0kg followed by Melo lifting 231.5kg.

In round two, Lawrence lifted 245.5kg with Melo successful at 246.0kg.

Both lifters asked for 252.5kg on the final lift with Melo going first by virtue of being the slightly heavier lifter.

Melo failed which left the way open for Lawrence to draw level on a world record 613.0kg total and take victory due to her lighter body weight.

She made it to snatch the most dramatic of triumphs.

Dutch veteran Ielja Strik, a five-time World Classic champion, took bronze at the age of 46.

Brown simply the best

Bonica Brown has dominated raw and equipped powerlifting at +84kg for years.

The 2017 World Games champion won her sixth consecutive Classic title in Helsingborg despite being successful on only five of her nine attempted lifts.

Her total of 640.0kg was down on her world record of 671.5kg from Calgary last year, but she was still far too strong for her rivals.

Brown was more than 50kg clear of Canada's silver medallist Brittany Schlater with Amelie Mierger of France in third.

The 30-year-old, who competed under the name Lough when previously married, alluded to personal struggles in 2019 after claiming yet another global title.

But it is hard to see anyone challenging her at the top of her sport.

Rest of Day 4

Anatolii Novopismennyi claimed his second -93kg title to give Ukraine their first title of these World Classic Championships.

The 23-year-old squatted 320.0kg to take control of the competition but failed on his final attempt at a world record 330.5kg.

A solid bench press of 197.5kg left him with a healthy lead and a deadlift of 335.0kg in the final round saw him post a new world record total of 852.5kg.

Novopismennyi won his first world title in 2016.

Gustav Hedlund of Sweden was second with USA's David Woolson taking bronze after failing with 367.5kg on his final deadlift.

Woolson's compatriot Ls McClain, seeking a hat-trick of titles, was well below-par on the squat and despite a world Masters record in the bench press, ended up in fourth place ahead of Ireland's Barry Pigott.

Eli Burks took -105kg gold for the United States as he emulated Novopismennyi in regaining the title he first won in 2016.

Burks looked to be up against it as he trailed Ernst Gross 30kg going into the deadlift after the Russian producing a huge 327.5kg in the squat.

But the last event is Burks' best and his final effort of 355.0kg was more than enough to take gold as Gross managed just one successful lift of 310.0kg.

That allowed Finland's Tuomas Hautala to snatch silver with his final deadlift of 352.5kg.

Afterwards, Burks revealed that he would move up to -120kg for future competitions.

Day 5 - Saturday 15th June

Uepa capitalises on Williams woe

The last event of the competition, the men's +120kg, saw the latest clash between Ray Williams and Jezza Uepa.

Williams had won the last five Classic world titles with Uepa runner-up to him in 2016 and 2017.

There were likely to be fireworks in the squat with Uepa a former world record holder and Williams the incumbent with 477.5kg.

Uepa managed a conservative 380.0kg with his first attempt, but there was tension in the air when Williams failed with his first try at 440.0kg.

After Uepa failed with his second attempt at 405.0kg, Williams received three red lights again.

When the man from Nauru was successful at 407.5kg, the attention was all on Williams and his third attempt at 440.0kg.

He failed again and his dream of a sixth consecutive crown was over.

The battle was for second place after that with Algeria's Ilyas Boughalem securing the final world record of the event with 290.0kg in the bench press.

Boughalem ended up with bronze behind Siim Rast of Estonia as Uepa clinched Nauru's first World Classic title.

Cliffe claims elusive crown

Tony Cliffe's record at previous World Classic Championships before this year in -120kg competitions was 4th, 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd.

The Briton finally stepped onto the top of the podium in Helsingborg with a consistently strong performance for a European record total of 920.0kg.

Cliffe's squat of 327.5kg was slightly down on his best in this weight category, but 242.5kg in the bench press was a big improvement on previous years and the best in the field.

And a deadlift of 350.0kg, another improvement on his performance in taking silver two years ago in Minsk, saw him complete a comfortable victory.

Canada's defending champion Erik Willis was second ahead of the silver medallist from 12 months ago, Poland's Piotr Sadowski.


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