HOW TEAM USA WON THE 2017 WORLD POWERLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Team USA has just won the team titles in both the Men's and Women's open divisions of the 2017 IPF World Powerlifting Championships, continuing the success the team has had in the past two years.
By the end of a week of lifting in the IPF's open categories, the US men locked up three of the competition's eight open weight classes. The women were even more successful, winning five of the seven open divisions.
But going into the tournament, you might have expected a less impressive showing from the USA squad. Based on the recent performances of each athlete, the US was expected to win less than half of the gold medals on offer.
So how did the US manage to beat expectations? We dive into the numbers to see what helped the USA team to bring home the gold yet again.
The USA's athletes owe much of their success to head coach Sioux-z Hartwig-Gary and her coaching staff. They proved yet again that when it comes to attempt selection, the USA is a world beater.
Athletes who make more of their attempts are more likely to place well, and US lifters and coaches certainly showed that they knew how to pick the right weights for the platform.
While the average male lifter completed 70.4% of their lifts successfully this year, athletes competing for the USA lifted a staggering 83.2% of the weights they attempted, or around 7.5 of every nine attempts taken. That performance put the US men first among the top ten scoring teams for avoiding missed lifts.
Gold medallist Dennis Cornelius successfully lifted seven of the nine barbells loaded for him in the -120kg class, including a new world record squat of some 851lbs. In the -93kg open category, champion LS McClain hoisted up eight of his attempts, missing only on his third go at the squat.
The average female lifter at the IPF championships succeeded in 71.7% of her attempts. However, US women made an impressive 79.4% of their attempts. Again, this put the US ahead of the other competitive teams for successful attempts, beaten only by the Netherlands, Great Britain and Denmark in success rates.
The USA's Marisa Inda faced off fierce competition in the -52kg open class to win her gold medal in the total, successfully making seven of her nine attempts. In the same class, head coach Sioux-z herself hit all nine of her lifts, while setting a new world record with a squat of 345lbs.
Sioux-z and her husband Matt Gary, the USAPL coaching committee chairman, have talked extensively on the topic of attempt selection. If you are interested in learning more, their recent podcast on the subject is a good place to start.
GROWING TALENT POOL
The US is currently dominant in raw powerlifting on the international stage, but it hasn’t always been that way. In 2014 the US failed to secure the men's team title bested by Russian opposition. In the previous year, Russia took before the women's and men's team wins.
Now in the sixth year of IPF raw worlds, team USA boasts some established veterans. The arrival of Ray Williams in the men’s super heavyweights has all but guaranteed the USA that gold medal, as he squatted more than 1,030lbs to win his fourth worth title this year. Kimberly Walford in the -72kg class is equally impressive, having never failed to bring home a gold medal win during the six year lifespan of the IPF raw worlds competition.
However, despite these stars, the team lists drawn up before the 2017 IPF contest suggested that the US might bring home just five gold medals from the open weight classes. In reality, it took home a total of eight - as US American athletes took top positions in more than half of the IPF's open divisions.
Fresh faces like that of Heather Connor in the -47kg class, and Jennifer Millican lifting in the -57kg division, managed to upset expectations with their first place wins. Both lifters have made tremendous strides in recent months, allowing them to surpass their more experienced rivals.
LS McClain in the men’s -93kg open category is no novice, and yet he also managed to out perform his peers. He lifted almost flawlessly to take first place in his class, rather than finishing in fourth position, as his past performances suggested he might.
The growth of USA Powerlifting, especially among raw lifters, has served to make the federation much more competitive. Its membership is expected to rise above 15,000 for the first time by the end of this year. This increasing pool of lifters has meant a greater chance for newer talent to appear.
For signs of what is to come for the USA's national performances, look no further than the talent on show at the competition's junior and sub-junior levels. Younger lifters won the men's national trophies in both age groups for the USA, and the women's contests were also promising, with -84kg junior Daniella Melo taking the best lifter award in the women's junior category.