FIVE JAW-DROPPING MOMENTS FROM USA POWERLIFTING RAW NATIONALS
By Peter Spence
As the biggest meet in the USA Powerlifting calendar, Raw Nationals brings together some of the world’s best talent. Everyone who came for the event impressed us in some way. That being said, we think five moments in particular were absolutely jaw-dropping.
5. BONICA LOUGH SQUATS OVER 600LBS (AGAIN)
Four-time world champion Bonica Lough is no stranger to pushing the limits. At last year’s Arnold Sports Festival, she became the first woman to squat over 600lbs raw. Since that lift, only one other American woman has come within even 10kg (22lbs) of the milestone.
Bonica was able to establish her dominance in the discipline yet again this year, as she took to the platform for a 273kg (601.9lb) squat. Lifting the weight almost effortlessly, she increased her own record by another half kilo.
4. YANGSU REN PULLS OVER FOUR TIMES HIS BODYWEIGHT
While nationals rookie Russel Orhii took the 83kg class, it was Yangsu Ren who stole the show. Coming into deadlifts with a subtotal putting him behind 25 other lifters in his weight class, Yangsu climbed to ninth position after his 321kg (707.7lb) second attempt pull.
That second attempt was itself an American record. What came next shocked the crowd. Yangsu and his coach decided to put 340kg (749.6lbs) on the bar. As the audience rose to their feet, so did the bar, as Yangsu ended the day with a pull of more than four times his bodyweight, and a fifth place finish.
3. JENNIFER THOMPSON CRUSHES A NEW BENCH RECORD
No-one contests that Jennifer Thompson is a world class bencher. She has established herself as the strongest pound-for-pound presser in the IPF for many years. However, her mastery of remaining calm under pressure is what impressed us at this year’s nationals.
After a tricky second attempt bench with 140kg (308.6lbs) as a result of some equipment issues, some in the room believed that Jennifer did not have much left in the tank. Yet a few minutes later, Jennifer was back on the platform, and crushing a new American record of 142.5kg (314.2lbs), moving more smoothly than her second lift.
2. RAY WILLIAMS SMOKES ANOTHER 1,000LB+ SQUAT
When Ray Williams squatted over 1,000lbs at 2016 Raw Nationals, it was a huge moment for the sport. Moving that amount of weight was long thought an impossible feat for a drug-free athlete, at least without the aid of supportive equipment, like knee wraps and briefs.
Since then, Ray has squatted that weight, or more, another 30 or so times, a tally he records on the inside of his SBD Belt. No other US lifter has been able to replicate this feat even once.
At 2017 Raw Nationals, Ray proved that he alone is the USAPL's king of squats, with a breezy second attempt of 467.5kg (1,030.7lbs). The lift helped Ray to secure the title of best men's lifter at this year's competition.
1. KIMBERLY WALFORD SETS FIVE NEW AMERICAN RECORDS
Kimberly Walford is one of the IPF's most decorated lifters. And yet, after nearly two decades in the sport, and six world championship titles, she is still able to put up record-breaking performances.
Her unofficial world record pull of 246kg (542.3lbs) was certainly one of the week's most awe-inspiring lifts, if not one of the most impressive feats of strength of all-time. A few years ago, her first 500lb pull was considered amazing, and now she is knocking on the door of 550lbs.
Not just an impressive deadlifter, Kimberly claimed herself a new American record of 188kg (414.5lbs) in the squat, breaking the former US record with both her second and third attempts.
Kimberly also broke the total record twice, with each of her second and third deadlifts, ending the day with a new unofficial world record of 549kg (1210.3lbs), greater than the official world record of the weight class above her. This performance won her the title of best women's lifter at 2017 Raw Nationals.