First lets take a look at the women. There is 3 weight classes that stand-out most to me. The 52, 57 and 72kg women’s class are filled with elite level lifters and tight podium battles.
In the 52kg class, Maria Htee and Stephanie Puddicome look to put on a show with some little ladies putting up big totals. Maria is on pace to squat over 300lbs, getting awefully close to World Record squat territory, while Steph has already pulled over 300lbs in competition.
The women’s 57kg class contains last years “Best Overall Female” Jessica Benedetto. Jessica is fresh off of a gold medal performance in Columbus Ohio at the Arnold Strength festival, a performance I know she is looking to better in the hopes of repeating as Overall Champion. Expect Jessica to run away with the gold in this class lead by her world-class bench press. Believe it or not, Jessica’s performance isn’t what I’m most looking forward to watching in this weightclass as the battle for 2nd to 5th place looks to be determined by less than 5kg! Women to watch for in this battle include Amy Smith with a 300.5kg total, Leah Mamane with a 297.5kg total, junior lifter Samantha Solie with a 295.5kg total and Lynn Wardle with a 295kg total. A single miss could drop any lifter right off the podium.
Finally the 72kg class appears to be a wild card with Commonwealth Champion Sarah Leighton and National record holder opting to compete equipped. This leaves a mirage of lifters with inconsistent recent totals battling for title of National champion. Eileen Du Plooy appears to have the early advantage with a 380kg total followed by Angela Desjarlais’s 362.5kg total. Other women in the mix for medal contention include Valarie Perry, Kelly Winter, Dani Savoie, and junior lifter Carolyne Savage all separated by a couple kilos in total!
Moving onto the men’s divisions gives viewers impressive lifts across all the weightclasses. These matchups are in my opinion, (although slightly biased) highlighted by the premier battles in the 74 and 83 divisions.
The 74kg division boasts two world-class lifters in Kojo Gyennin and Josh Hancott. Kojo is arguably one of the best lightweight deadlifters in the world while Hancott has previously held the junior World squat record and is on pace to challenge for the title of World Champion in Johannesburg this summer. Both lifters are ranked in the top 5 all-time in Canada and this is a matchup that has been brewing in the CPU for a couple years. I can’t wait to witness the outcome.
The 83kg division once again contains a world record holder and a premier deadlifter as Connor Lutz and Mark Wasson faceoff in one of the most highly anticipated battles of the week. Connor will be making his debut in the open division, while Mark continues his quest for an elusive 700lbs deadlift. On a good day both these lifters are capable of totaling well over 700kg, a total that would challenge for most world championship podiums.
The 93kg class has Jonathan Simard from MOFO looking to redeem his injury filled 2013 campaign led by his huge bench and squat. He will have his hands full with Vincent Byrne, the National record holder in total, and Jake Warrington’s impressive deadlift.
The 105 open class has some lifters that look like they can challenge for the National total record as James Bartlett comes down from his usual 120kg class to challenge young gun Erick Willis, the junior record holder, Laurent Fontaine and Leon Brown, another World Record holder in the Bench Press, for the National title.
Moving up in weight classes the 120kg division looks to be one of the most competitive in the country with John Macdonald, Mark Giffin, Ben Downs and Nicolas Tremblay all poised for a podium finish. By the looks of it, it is going to take a National record total to win this division! Look for Ben and Nicolas to put up huge deadlift numbers along with Mark Giffin’s world class bench of 484lbs!
Last but certainly not least I don’t think there is a lifter in Canada not looking forward to watching Kelly Branton in the 120+ division take the platform in St. Catherines. Kelly boasts the second best wilks score in CPU history along with an 800lbs raw squat. This is not a lifter you want to miss.
This leads us into the discussion of best overall award winners. In the Women’s division Jessica Benedetto has to be the favorite to repeat from last year as Canada’s best Alyssa Smith won’t be competing and Rhaea Fowler and Sarah Leighton will be duking it out in the equipped division later in the week. Going in as the favorite doesn’t mean a guaranteed victory; however, as every woman in the contest will be looking to chase her down.
In the Men’s division Kelly Branton is the man to beat with a wilks of over 500, but 7 of Canada’s top 10 wilks scores of all time will be competing at one venue and on any given day this award is up for grabs. Winners of this title can truly call themselves the best Male lifter in Canada for the year.
Best of luck in the final week of training for all competing and most of all, Stay Strong!
For anyone looking to tune into the championship the link can be found at http://www.niagarapowerlifting.ca/livestream.htm