The Arnold Sports Festival UK kicked off today and the powerlifting got off to a brilliant start.
The morning session began with the equipped men. No surprise that Tony Cliffe led the way from the off. The competition was scored on GL points rather than most weight lifted in traditional weight classes but it was easy to see Tony streak ahead, nailing all three squats and ending up with a massive 405kg. GB’s Rob Palmer struggled a little on squats but made up for it on bench, hitting 240kg in the M1 83kg class for a new European record. Tony put on quite a show on deadlifts and, although 380kg wasn’t quiet there on the day, he finished well ahead, taking the EUR2,000 prize money and leaving Rob with the EUR1,000 second place prize. Meanwhile, Jack Johnson quietly put together a 897.5kg total, snagging the EUR600 third prize.
The women lifted in the afternoon and put on quite the show. Hot favourite, Sonja Stefanie Krueger of Germany, gave us a fright on squat, missing her first two attempts but thankfully she nailed 265kg on her third attempt. Zuzanna Kula of Poland pushed up her own junior squat world record by a couple of kilos, getting 207.5kg in the 52kg class on her second try. Norway’s Marte Elverum went three for three on squats, finishing on 250kg and making her mark as one of the main contenders on the day. Teammate Heidi Hille Arnesen broke the M2 squat world record with her opener and increased it twice, all the way up to 252.5kg.
Krueger opened light on the bench but startled us again by missing 165kg, seemingly on strength. She was wearing an F6 bench shirt rather than her usual low cut super katana which might have been a strategy to get one in safely. She came out for it again and was successful before changing into a super katana for her third attempt of 180kg. Unfortunately, her shirt slipped up her chest as she brought the bar down and she was unsuccessful with it. She was, however, still in the lead. GB’s Ellie Steel made a valiant attempt at a world record of 156.5kg but missed on a technicality which was unfortunate. She was awarded a second attempt at the weight but was unsuccessful. Next time, for sure.
Onto deadlift and the contenders started to separate out. Kula and Steel were unassailable in 3rd and 4th place respectively but the two front runners were neck and neck. Krueger pulled 200kg on her second for the lead and even a brilliant 245kg from Elverum could not get her past. Everything came down to the final round of deadlift, which is how it should be. Krueger missed her third and tension built as Elverum charged out onto the platform for 250kg for first place and an extra thousand euros in prize money. It came off the floor fast and she took it all the way to lockout before her grip let her down and the bar fell to the floor.
What a great start to the event! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the classic powerlifting.