The afternoon session of the Arnold UK was the classic powerlifting women and what a line up! World champions and world record holders lifted side by side for the first time and, of course, the big story was Lya Bavoil’s return to the platform after failing to make weight at the World Classic in Sun City, South Africa.
Lya set out her intentions from the start with the heaviest opener at 200kg and made it look easy. She comfortably took 210.5kg to increase her own 63kg squat world record for her second attempt. Last lifter out to squat with a world record of 213kg on the bar, Lya looked serious as she approached the bar. She sunk the squat with the narrow stance that we are coming to expect from the ladies of Team France and, although there was some work to do to get to the top, she was smiling before she got there. As the three white lights showed, she screamed in triumph and the crowd roared its delight. 2.5 GL points clear of the field, Lya was already proving that she was the one to beat.
Tiffany Chapon of France was the overall best lifter at Classic Worlds this year and she made an impression from the off. She weighed in at 47.05kg which looked a little like she was aiming for the 47kg class but didn’t quite make it. As the competition was scored on GL points rather than most weight lifted within a weight class, this wasn’t a disaster and, indeed, gave Turbo Tiff the opportunity to scoop up a few records in the class above. She didn’t waste any time at all, taking the 52kg junior world record in squat with her opener, despite only being 50 grams into the class. She missed 160kg on her second, failing to be upright enough to satisfy the referees, but nailed it on her third to push the junior world record up even further and move herself into second place.
It was great to see a return to classic lifting on the international stage for World Games gold medallist and top ranked Italian lifter, Carola Garra. She stumbled a little at the outset, missing her 185kg opener on depth but she moved the weight well and, undeterred, went up to 192.5kg for her second and matched her competition best with 200kg on her final squat, putting her in third place overall going into bench.
Just behind was British squat phenom, Bobbie Butters. She holds the squat world record in the 57kg class but was lifting just into the 63kg at this event which gave her the opportunity to scoop the British record squat in that class. She was evenly matched for fourth place with 52kg world champion Noemie Allabert who went three for three on squats and ended up only a couple of kilos below the world record with 165kg.
After extending her own squat world record to 213kg, France’s Lya Bavoil led the way heading into bench with team-mate Tiffany Chapon a couple of GL points behind and Italy’s Carola Garra only another half a point back.
However, things soon turned around when Garra leapt into the lead with a massive 132.5kg opener. and Chapon’s 92.5kg was enough to move ahead of Bavoil, pushing her down into third.
Into the second round and Bavoil took a big jump to 110kg to move back past Chapon who couldn’t improve on her opener. Garra, however, looked superb with 140kg and asked for a world record attempt of 143.5kg for her third. She looked confident approaching the bench and the crowd shouted their support as she pressed it comfortably for a new 63kg world record.
Further down the field, Bobbie Butters took 110kg in the 63kg class for a new British record and clung on to 4th place, just a couple of points ahead of Italy’s Chiara Bernardi.
With 5,500 Euros in prize money up for grabs and some of the IPF’s top deadlifters in the field, tension mounted as we moved into deadlifts.
Carola Garra led at sub-total, nearly 4 GL points ahead of Lya Bavoil who was, in turn, only 1.5 points ahead of her team-mate, Tiffany Chapon.
Chapon took the 52kg junior world record total with her 165kg opener. Garra took an easy looking 192.5kg for her first pull which was enough to stay ahead of Bavoil’s opening 210kg deadlift – but only by .05 of a GL point. Game on.
Joy Nnamani’s blink-and-you-miss-it 205kg opener moved her all the way up to 4th place in one go – not completely unexpected from the Brit.
Into the second round and Chapon looked at ease with 172.5kg. However, Nnamani smoked 220kg, closing the gap to Chapon considerably and also extending Nnamani’s own 57kg world record total to 485kg.
Garra’s second pull of 202.5kg looked like she had plenty left in the tank but Bavoil looked focussed and confident with 222.5kg and she re-took the lead by less than half a GL point.
Into the third round and Chapon lost 175kg at the top when her grip went but third place still looked fairly secure.
Garra came out for 212.5kg to try to take back first place but, just off the floor, disaster! She dropped the bar and clutched at her hamstring. Best wishes Carola - we hope you recover quickly!
Nnamani entertained the crowd with a 4xbodyweight deadlift at 230kg to extend her own deadlift AND total world records. This is probably the hardest we’ve seen Joy have to work to finish a pull but finish it she did and then blew kisses to the crowd.
Heaviest deadlifts of the day went to GB’s Sophia Ellis and Ziana Azariah, both with 240kg – a European record for Ellis! However, there was no denying that the dominant performance was Lya Bavoil. She may have already won the competition but she wanted more.
231kg went on the bar for a new deadlift world record, a new total world record of 556.5kg and the highest raw GL points score of any woman in the IPF. Tension mounted as she paced at the back of the platform - she looked a little rattled as she set up but the pull was strong and never faltered. Heartache in Sun City, redemption in Birmingham. All hail the queen.