The powerlifting competitions at Wroclaw 2017 provided some of the most memorable moments this summer, during the Polish edition of The World Games. Whether it was the exuberant celebrations of Frenchman El Beghiti Hassan, Ukrainian Wonder Woman Laryisa Soloviova confirming her status as a four time champion at The World Games, or Polish strongman Jaroslaw Olech becoming emotional in front of his own fans, there was always something of interest happening at Wroclaw's National Forum of Music.
This week powerlifters once again travelled to Central Europe in search of glory and medals. The IPF World Open Powerlifting Championships have been taking place in the Czech city of Pilsen. There have been many outstanding performances as the lifters have once again resumed their struggles against unbeaten opponent Gravity. This summer's stars in Wroclaw have continued their fine form and made immediate returns to the podium.
During The World Games, El Beghiti Hassan deadlifted an incredible 315kg to set a new World Record. The Frenchman endeared himself to the crowd by joyfully bouncing up and down and then leaping into the arms of his coach. Though Hassan had lifted the most weight in the competition, once the adjustment that equalises differences in athletes physique was applied, he found himself taking the silver medal behind Sergey Fedosienko, the champion of The World Games in Cali 2013. Their latest encounter in Pilsen again resulted in the Russian just pipping the Frenchman to the top step of the podium.
Laryisa Soloviova's gold rush began at the 2005 edition of The World Games in Dusiberg, Germany, and continued with successful defences of her title in Chinese Taipei (2009) and Colombia (2013). The question coming into Wroclaw 2017 whether her superhuman strength showed any signs of decline was answered emphatically in the negative, as another assured performance guaranteed immortality as a legend of The World Games. Her achievements are even more remarkable given that powerlifters are always one bad lift away from serious injury. 2010 was the last time that the Ukrainian lifter failed to secure a gold medal at the World Championships and it was business as usual in the Czech Republic. Her excellent lifts in the bench press helped her to see off the challenge of nearest rival Cicera Tavares, the Brazilian performed admirably to set two new world records. Anna Ryzhkova, who had shared the podium during Soloviova's night of history in Wroclaw, turned her silver medal from The World Games into a more satisfying colour in the Czech city. Fellow Russian Natalia Salnikova also had double cause for celebration, her gold medal from Pilsen can be displayed alongside the one she won in Poland.
It was no surprise when the amazing Polish lifter Jaroslaw Olech topped the podium in Wroclaw. After all, he had been the champion in the previous two editions of The World Games and has collected many medals in an illustrious career. However the enormity of winning a gold medal in front of his delirious fellow countrymen proved too much for him, and he welled up in tears of pride. The video of his emotional response went viral on You Tube and provided the defining image of how much the hosting of The World Games meant to the Poles. In the Czech Republic, Olech claimed his sixteenth World Championship gold! His latest triumph was done in great style, his successful last lift of 328kg set two new world records in deadlift and total weight lifted. It is incredible to think during the course of the deadlift discipline, that the Polish strongman almost lifted a tonne in weight! Olech is an exceptional athlete and his record breaking feats rounded off a memorable year of success at the IPF World Championships and The World Games.