The 2023 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships took place from June 11th to 18th in Valletta, Malta. The USA dominated, earning the most gold medals for total of any nation with 6, the most medals for total overall with 11, and sweeping the team points with gold medals for both women and men. The USA also won 3 best lifter medals, with Natalie Richards winning gold, Jonathan Cayco winning silver and Amanda Lawrence winning bronze. Counting the individual events, the USA won 40 medals overall and all 16 American athletes won at least one medal.
Kicking things off on Day 1 was Men’s 59kg lifter Wascar Carpio, who made his debut on the world stage, totaling 625kg (1377lbs) to take gold. Carpio’s total was shy of the 636.5kg (1403lbs), which was 95% of Sergey Fedosienko’s 669.5kg (1475lbs) world record total, which would have gotten him an automatic Sheffield invitation. His final 272.5 (600lbs) attempt would have netted him the requisite 637.5kg (1405kg) total, but it nearly escaped his grasp.
On the same day, female lifters in the 47kg weight class, veteran Heather Connor and newcomer Jessica Espinal took center stage. In the beginning, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Connor, who was on the verge of bombing out on squats. But she overcame adversity by getting her third squat of 132.5kg (292lbs). Initially, it was called a no-lift but was overturned by the jury. Connor broke the world record deadlift on her second and third attempts, pulling herself onto the podium, getting bronze in dramatic fashion, and setting the new World Record deadlift at 200kg (441lb). Connor finished with a still very impressive 407.5kg (898lb) total, showcasing the grit and determination that has made her a legend in this sport. Espinal, on the other hand, put together a perfect performance. Espinal totaled 412.5kg (909lb) earning her the silver medal in the 47kg class. She improved her nationals performance by 4kg and put the world on notice.
In the Men’s 66kg class, Brian Le started strong, going 2 for 3 on both squat and bench. He finished with a 242.5kg (534lb) squat and a 152.5kg (336lb) bench. Le then opened deadlifts with an eyebrow-raising 300.5kg (662lb) pull, a new world record. However, he was unable to lock out his second or third attempts. In a very competitive 66kg class, Le’s 695kg (1532lb) total was still good enough for a silver medal and a podium spot at his first-ever world competition.
In the Women’s 57kg class, Natalie Richards made her debut at the international level en route to out-dueling former champion Jade Jacob to secure the gold medal and winning best overall lifter at the World Championships. Richards finished with an eye-popping 512.5kg total (1,130 lbs), which shattered the previous all-time world record total formerly held by Jacobs at the 2023 IPF Sheffield Powerlifting Championships. Richards’ impressive day consisted of a 180kg (396.8 lbs) squat, 107.5kg (237 lbs) bench press, and 225kg (496 lbs) deadlift.
In the Women’s 63kg class, despite being a big underdog in nominations to Italian lifters Carola Garra and Chiara Bernardi, Meghan Scanlon still managed to put up a great fight. In the squat, Scanlon finished with a solid 195kg (429lbs) putting her safely in the second place position. She had a slight hiccup on bench where she initially received only one red light for depth on her second attempt, leaving the platform only to have it overturned as she reached the back. Nevertheless, she decided to go up on her third, but ultimately still got the 127.5kg (281lbs) lift. On deadlift, Scanlon pulled 210kg (463lbs). Ultimately, Scanlon earned a well-deserved silver overall and an impressive 532.5kg (1173lbs) total against Garra’s unprecedented world record total of 557.5kg (1229lbs).
In the Men’s 74kg class, Taylor Atwood was seeking to defend his title against the most competitive field the weight class has ever seen. The day got off to an unusual start after Atwood nearly timed out of his first squat after he was asked to rerack due to posture and was finally given the squat command with just a second remaining. His second squat was successful, but his third was turned down 2 to 1 on depth and his protests were denied. After finishing off the podium on squats, he was able to make up a lot of ground on bench with 197.5kg (435lbs), taking silver in that event. Deadlifts started out with a fast opener of 292.5kg (644lbs) followed by a smooth second of 310kg (683lbs). With just one lift to go, Atwood found himself in the lead, but only by a slim margin. After Sweden’s Carl Johansson put in a third attempt of 400kg (881lbs) as a placeholder, Atwood was forced to pull first, electing for 323kg (712lbs), a World Record. This lift was not as easy as his first two and he struggled to lock it out, eventually doing so after a monumental struggle. With a lead of just 7.5kg (16lbs), he was in a vulnerable position and unfortunately, his lift was turned down, receiving all reds and not allowing him to protest. New Zealand’s Tim Monigatti dropped his third attempt to 324kg (714lbs) and was successful, shocking the World and handing Atwood his first defeat at Worlds since 2017. But the competition was far from over. With Atwood posting a 777.5kg (1714lb) total and Monigatti sitting at 778kg (1715lbs), Johansson dropped his final attempt down to 328kg (723lbs). He easily pulled it to bring his total to 778kg (1715lbs), taking deadlift and overall gold.
In the Men’s 83kg class, Delaney Wallace entered looking to defend his 2022 World title. Despite having his third squat and second bench overturned by the jury, Wallace was able to secure a bronze medal in both events with a final squat of 295kg (650lbs) and bench of 195kg (429lbs). After Hungary’s Asein Enahoro pulled a second attempt deadlift of 370.5kg (816lbs) to Wallace’s second of 325kg (716lbs), he elected to go with 330kg (727lbs), which would put him at an 820kg (1807lb) total and forcing Enahoro to pull Enahoro having pulled his second attempt smoothly and now only needing a 10kg jump of 380.5kg (838lbs) to win, Wallace was holding his breath. Fortunately, Wallace retained his title after Enahoro was unable to get the lift successfully.
In the Women’s 69kg class, Chelsea Savit represented the United States, coming in third on nominations. After going 6 for 6 on squat and bench and taking gold on the latter with an impressive 127.5kg (281lbs) final attempt, Savit found herself just 12.5kg ahead of France’s Clara Peyraud for the final podium spot. With Peyraud having successfully pulled 222.5kg (490lbs) on her second, Savit did her best to defend her position with a 215kg (473lb) pull to put her total at 530kg (1168lbs). However, it was short-lived as Peyraud was able to successfully pull 227.5 (501lbs) for a Junior world record and third place overall, knocking Savit off the podium.
In the Women’s 76kg class, Dayna McNeal was up against a stacked class that consisted of Canada’s Jessica Buettner, Poland’s Agata Sitko, New Zealand’s Karlina Tongotea, among others. McNeal started off the day strong with a 200kg (441lb) squat. She finished with a bench press of 97.5kg (214lbs) after her 102.5kg (225lbs) third attempt was overturned. It was then that Buettner, Sitko and Tongotea began to separate themselves. McNeal turned to her strongest lift, the deadlift, to try to keep her in the mix. McNeal opened at 230kg (507lbs) and moved to 240kg (529lbs) for her second. McNeal attempted a hulking 262kg (577lb) world record attempt as her third. While it did break the ground, she was ultimately unsuccessful. In the end, McNeal ended up in fifth place with a 537.5kg (1184lb) total.
In an extremely competitive Men’s 93kg class, Jonathan Cayco and Gavin Adin came into the event under a lot of pressure. Cayco was able to go 3 for 3 on squats, securing a 300kg (661lb) third attempt. Adin, on the other hand, had his third squat overturned by the jury for depth, finishing only 10kg ahead of Cayco with 310kg (683lbs). On bench, they both ended 3 for 3, with Adin posting a 220kg (485lb) third to Cayco’s world record of 243kg (535lbs). Heading into deadlifts, Adin was still in the fight for a podium spot and Cayco was trying to remain in first. Cayco elected to open with 320kg (705) and moved to a 337.5kg (744lb) second attempt. Adin put up a 330kg (727lb) second deadlift in an attempt to get on the podium. However, Sweden’s Gustav Hedlund and Germany’s Sasha Stendebach were able to pull ahead of him. With the top 4 lifters separating themselves, Cayco decided to pull 345kg (760lbs). He was successful in doing so, setting a world record total of 888kg (1957lbs) and recapturing his world title. In the end, Adin finished the day 6 for 9 at 860kg (1895lbs) and in fifth place.
In the Women’s 84kg class, Amanda Lawrence got off to a hot start with a 249kg (548) third attempt squat, breaking her previous world record of 246.5kg (543lbs), which she set earlier this year at Sheffield. She continued to increase her lead with a 130kg (286lb) bench. After pulling her second attempt deadlift of 257.5kg (567lb) successfully, Lawrence elected to go for 267.5kg (589lbs) on her third, which would secure best lifter. However, while she got the bar above her knees, she was unable to keep her balance at the top. Lawrence finished the day with a massive 636.5kg (1403lb) total, winning her weight class by a not-even-close margin of 71.5kg (157lbs).
In the Men’s 105kg class, Michael Davis started out 3 for 3 on squats with a 317.5kg (699lb) third attempt. After putting up 217.5kg (479lbs) on his second attempt bench press, Davis elected to go for a 225kg (496lb) third attempt, but barely missed. Despite only going 2 for 3 on bench, he was able to make the podium with a silver medal. Going into deadlifts, Davis found himself in a battle against France’s Clement Corentin, Great Britain’s Abdul Maheed Sulayman and Libya’s Mohamed Abdulla Mohamed Ahmeed for a podium spot. After Sulyaman missed his opening attempt of 340kg (749lbs), Corentin and Davis both hit 330kg (727lbs) and 350kg (771lbs) on their first and second attempts. Davis loaded up 365kg (804lbs) in an attempt to knock Ahmeed off the podium. He was unsuccessful. And Ahmeed was able to pull his third successfully. Davis and Clement finished at 885kg (1951lbs), but Davis was able to secure fourth place on body weight.
In the Women’s 84+ division, Bonica Brown entered as a massive favorite. Things kicked off with an epic battle for the squat record of 280kg (617lbs). Brown chipped it with a speedy 280.5kg (618lbs) on her second attempt. Canada’s Brittany Schlater became the second lifter of the session to break it with a 281 (619lb) third attempt. Belgium’s Muluh Sonita went for a major jump of 4.5 kg to raise the record to 285.5kg (629lb). Brown then raised the record one more time by 4kg with a fast 289kg (637lb) squat to remain the world record-title holder. In the bench, Brown finished fourth with 152.5kg (336lbs). Going into deadlifts, Brown was leading with a 441.5kg (973lbs) subtotal to Schlater’s 436 (961lbs) and Sonita’s 428kg (943lbs). This lead would not last long, however, as Brown was called for soft lockout on her first attempt and had her second, which was initially a good lift but had it overturned for the same reason. Brown elected to try her opener of 240kg (529lbs). While she was able to lift it, she was again given a no-lift due to soft lockout. While not the day she was hoping for, Brown was still able to receive the squat medal.
In the Men’s 120+kg class, Jesus Olivares entered the competition coming off what is being considered one of the most dominant powerlifting performances at the Sheffield. On the squat, Olivares finished with a routine 455kg (1003lbs) on his second attempt, electing to pass up on a third. He failed his first bench of 250kg (551lbs), hitting the rack on the way up and being called for downward motion. On his second attempt, while it hit the rack once again, he stayed with it and was able to post a good lift of 250kg (551lbs). After trying and failing to lockout 267.5kg (589lbs) on his third, he still finished in second place on the lift with Algeria’s Ilyas Boughalem in first with 280kg (617lbs). Olivares elected to open with 350kg (771lbs) on deadlift, easily locking it out and moving on to a successful second of 375kg (826lbs). With very little on the line, Olivares put in 410kg (903lbs) for his third. While fast off the floor, he was unable to hold on to the bar at lockout. After everything, he still finished the day with a monstrous 1080kg (2380lbs) total to cap an incredible week for Team USA at IPF Classic Worlds.