With the Juniors breaking all but 4 of the Junior Total World Records during the latest Classic World Championships in Calgary, it may be a fair claim to say that they were the stars of this year’s competition (with the possible exception of the spotters #Luigi). The pace at which the youngsters of our sport continually raise the bar is astounding. As is expected, most of the hype leading into a World Championship is firmly centred around the Open competition but with the notable absences of big hitters such as Jezza Uepa, Kimberly Walford, Isabella von Weissenberg, and Dennis Cornelius to name but a few, the sport’s spotlight broadened more than usual. Our kids didn’t disappoint.
We must first of course look to the stellar performance of Miss Daniella Melo in the Open 84kg class to kick off this review. At just 19 years of age Melo bested her 2017 Junior crown with a dazzling performance in the Seniors. Head and shoulders above her fellow ladies, Melo took the Open throne at a canter. With 3rd attempts that moved like butter, it’s scary to imagine what she could do if she had anybody on her heels. Like Bonica Brown in the class above her, she can pick and choose when World Records need to be broken. This was all said last year when she devastated the Junior competition in Minsk – so the logical next step was to move up to the Open. This year, with a 40kg cushion over the silver medal position, where else can she go to be challenged? The Arnold next year is set to be ground-breaking.
Melo is undoubtedly the standout Junior amongst the females, if not overall (we’ll get to Okpoko later), as the rest of the girls haven’t yet managed to emulate her progress against the vets. The boys however are on the charge. The depth of elite talent in the Junior Men’s ranks speaks for itself. 16 Juniors would have made it into their respective Open top 5 at this year’s competition and 7 would have had hypothetical Senior medals! The gap between the elite Men and Boys is as tight as Charlie Dickson’s singlet. Realistically one can’t make direct comparisons between the data resulting from both groups, as this would negate the differing levels of pressure, intra-class competition, and tactical attempt selection. But this is our article; f*ck tha police. Here are our equalised placings:
Following a contentious Powerlifting Exposed podcast between Brett Gibbs and JP Cauchi in 2017, could there now more than ever be a plausible cause for ‘scrapping the Juniors’? In our opinion, no. This would rob the future of the sport of the chance to showcase their talents on the world stage and gain valuable lifting experience. It would also stop us from showing the world that we are one of the few sports that values the skills of our youth (and older athletes) on a comparable level to the ‘main event’. The counterpoint to this would be the increased competition in the majority of national rankings and international team spots, as is highlighted in the 66kg class.
Sergey Gladkikh, 3x 66kg World Champion and IPF stalwart, was unceremoniously de-throned by the young upstart Charles Okpoko. In one of the perennially most closely contested classes, Okpoko took his Equipped exploits to the Raw stage and blew away the competition. Okpoko not only bejewelled his crown with a handful of Worlds Records, he beat the likes of Stephen Cascioli, Antti Savolainen, and Hassan El Belghiti who all have more international experience than he has had hot dinners. What’s more, he took the USA 66kg Open spot. No matter the circumstances of selection, the pressure alone of filling the shoes of Keith McHoney proves that Okpoko is a natural born champion.
The performance of every single junior was genuinely amazing when put in comparison with the general lifting population (nevermind the general population), and they continue to be a credit to our sport.
Honourable mention also goes to Jessica Buettner who would have medalled bronze in the Open 72kg class, and to Chrystal Williams and LeeAnn Hewitt who would have come 5th in the Senior 84kg and 4th in the Senior 84+ categories respectively. As if being World Champions in their own right wasn’t enough!
Dalton LaCoe, Clifton Pho, and Eddie Berglund all broke Open World Records.
Subjuniors Brianna Morrison, Veronica Ompod, Kani Haruka, Miranda Chambers, and Mariella Fisher would have taken notable scalps in the Junior rankings, finishing in an adjusted Gold in the 43kg, Bronze in the 43kg, Silver in the 47kg, Bronze in the 57kg, and 4th in the 72kg Junior classes respectively.
And last but not least, all ze way from France, Subjunior Clement Corentin would have finished 8th in the OPEN Mens’s 105kg class!!! King Clement is certainly one to watch for the future.
Say what you will about our adjusted rankings data but the overarching message of this article is that the explosive growth of Powerlifting (along with the ever improving mastery of coaching ability) is leading to the production of some terrifying athletes. 12% of the current Classic Open World records are held by Juniors. What is next for this handsome crop? What has Sean Noriega got up his sleeve? Where is Anatolii Novopismennyi? And can somebody please DeLorean a healthy Jesse Norris?