Report for the 2017 European Classic Bench Press Championships, held in Finland
This was the first European Classic Bench Press Championship to take place, and it was a very well run event. There were a few issues with the hotels due to one shutting down just two weeks before the championships, but everything worked out in the end. Great Britain made themselves well heard in the crowd, supporting every person that was lifting every day.
Results from the British lifters in order of when they lifted:
Lifter Category Best Bench Wilks Placing Points
Julie Briggs M2/72kg 45 44.59 4 7
Mike Edwards M4/93kg 0 0 0 0
Tom Collins M4/105kg 152.5 91.70 2 9
Kev Barrs M2/83kg 140 94.25 5 6
Andy Rigby M2/93kg 192.5 121.10 1 12
Eno Majomi M1/72kg 87.5 85.65 2 9
Jacqueline Gough M1/84+kg 90 69.53 2 9
James Wands M1/83kg 177.5 79.17 6 5
Sheridan Wray M1/93kg 185 116.70 1 12
David Litchfield M1/93kg 150 95.65 5 6
Richard Twycross-Lewis M1/105kg 152.5 91.67 6 5
Mariah Connor-Brown SubJunior/84kg 67.5 60.19 2 9
Megan Davies Junior/72kg 60 62.44 5 6
Connor Burkhill Junior/66kg 130 102.17 5 6
Louise Norden Open/63kg 85 91.75 8 3
Ruta Lendraitiene Open/72kg 85 83.95 5 6
Dan Lindsell Open/120kg 197.5 113.96 7 4
Mat Brignall Open/120+kg 205 113.39 6 5
The competition started well with Julie Briggs opening it for the British team. Julie had two very strong lifts to start with and although she pressed her final 50kg attempt, it was failed on slight downward movement of the bar. Julie was up against a woman attempting world records, but she didn't let this phase her and gave it her all! To follow was Mike Edwards who opened on what should have been an easy 97.5kg, but failed to get the start command on the first two lifts due to unlocked elbows. Mike attempted 100kg for his final attempt as it would have given him a podium spot if the Finnish competitor failed theirs, but unfortunately Mike was given the 'rack' command before he finished pressing out the lift. We appealed the decision and although the jury agreed with the fast rack command, Mike had been given three reds so it could not be overturned. Young Tom Collins went up against a German lifter who opened on a new M4 105kg world record with 165kg. Tom had previously held this record with 157.5kg, and although was pretty poorly in the lead up to the competition, had a great day and secured a silver position on his first lift. Up next on the first day was Kev Barrs who was a pleasure to coach. He was ranked 6th in nominations and finished in 5th position, with a PB of 140kg and 9 white lights. Finishing the GB team off for the day was Andy Rigby, and what a job he did! Andy opened on an easy 185kg and got 192.5kg for his second which was an M2 European Record - Andy finished in first so became European Bench Press Champion for his class, as well as becoming best lifter for the Masters 2!
Onto Friday where we had a busy day with 7 lifters: Starting the day was Eno Majomi who was ranked 3rd in nominations. This quickly became a very tight competition with all three women fighting for gold. In the end, both Eno and the Finnish woman finished on a 87.5kg press, however because the Fin had a lighter bodyweight, she was awarded gold while Eno took silver. This was a very tense and incredible performance from all three women! Jax Gough took silver on her first lift and was in a position to fight for gold on her final lift. Unfortunately 97.5kg just wasn't there that day, so Jax finished on a 90kg bench and a silver medal. Eno and Jax's points combined gave the M1 women's team 3rd place overall - congratulations!!!
James Wands finished on 117.kg, then we had three M1 men in one group - David Litchfield finished on 150kg after flying into Finland from America and Richard Twycross-Lewis ended up 152.5kg. Sheridan Wray was up against a man from Hungary who was nominated at 195kg so we all felt the pressure, however the Hungarian didn't follow through in competition. The threat then changed from the Hungarian to the Finnish man who was at a lighter body weight, so the plan was to continuously stay 2.5kg infront of him. This paid off as Sheridan became European Champion, taking gold on his second attempt - getting 9 white lights overall! Congratulations Sheridan.
Finishing the lifting off on the Friday was subjunior lifter Mariah Connor-Brown, who took silver with 67.5kg - a 7.5kg PB! This is even more impressive as Mariah had flown in on the morning of the competition and then had to carry out a 0.9kg weight cut. Mariah remained professional and we were very impressed with how she dealt with the stresses on the day.
Day three of the competition started with Megan Davies who finished on a 60kg bench press. Connor Burkill moved up from 6th to 5th place from the nominations and finished on a 130kg bench press. Finishing the day off was Louise Norden who finished on an equal PB of 85kg.
The final day came with Ruta Lendraitiene finishing on 87.5kg bench press. Following Ruta was Dan Lindsell (120s) and Mat Brignall (120+) - Dan finished on 197.5kg and Mat finished on 205kg to close the GB teams lifters!
I'd like to say a huge thank you to the GB team for their hard work - not just for the training and competing they did. They stepped up to support and coach each other once they had lifted - this helped a tremendous amount as coach numbers were quite thin on the ground. When they weren't supporting or coaching a lifter, they were in the crowd cheering them on. There was a real team atmosphere.
Thank you also to GB Head Coach Sheridan Wray who lead the team to a number of medals - and kept me sane!