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2021 World Deadlift Championships

This August saw the return of the World Deadlift Championships for the first time in two years, and the event didn’t disappoint. A major factor influencing the outcome of the event was the fact it was a part of a larger show. The Giants Live World Open was the official title of the show, with the World Deadlift Championships the main attraction. Attending athletes essentially had to decide if they wanted to win the deadlift event, or save something to try to win the overall show. A new young crop of talented strongmen took on the remainder of the old guard, with a number of men breaking the 1,000 lb barrier. The challenge of the day was to break Hafthor Julius Bjornsson’s existing record of 501 kg, or 1104 lbs. So who came out on top, and did the record fall? The results are as follows: 

T-8: Andy Black, 425 kg 

Andy Black was never expected to truly challenge for the world record or the win, but did put in a respectable showing. His best gym lift leading up to competition was a cool 410 kg, and he barely missed 420kg during the weeks leading up to the show as well. On the day he went one better, making 400 kg and setting a personal best of 425 kg. A student of Andy Bolton, he is possibly one to watch for the future, but unfortunately didn’t have enough to be competitive on the day.

T-8: Gavin Bilton, 425 kg

The Welsh Bull was looking like an outsider going into the show, with his best gym lift a cool 380 kg without a suit. However, as one of the heaviest strongmen on the circuit at this point in time, The Welsh Bull is known for his static strength-and it showed. Bilton managed good lifts at 400 kg and 425 kg, not good enough to make the podium for the event, but still enough for an impressive lift on the day. He could walk away feeling some pride, however, as he did still set a new Welsh record in the deadlift.

T-8: Rauno Heinla, 425 kg

I will admit I was disappointed by Heinla’s performance this year. He tied to win the previous edition in 2019 with a lift of 455 kg. That being said, Rauno did have some health issues this year, losing a significant chunk of weight due to illness leading up to the show. As a smaller strongman, weighing in at just a touch over 300lbs, this had much more of an impact of Heinla than it would have on someone like Bilton, who is 6’6” and over 440 lbs. Still, Rauno will be disappointed with his placing for sure.

T-8: Mikhail Shivlyakov, 425 kg

This lift was about par for the course for big Shiv, whose PR sits at a very respectable 436 kg. Shovlyakov is known for his extreme dedication and refusal to leave any effort on the platform, as showcased by his 2020 PR pull which lasted a staggering 15 seconds and left him a bloody mess (I high recommend looking this lift up on youtube, it is one of the most impressive pulls I have ever seen). Always just shy of entering into that elite category of deadlifters, Shivlyakov is still putting up respectable numbers well into his forties, but it wasn’t enough to do much damage on the day as he managed successful pulls at 400 kg and 425 kg.

T-2: Nedzmin Ambeskovic, 453kg

The next group of tied athletes begins with Nedzmin Ambeskovic, Bosnia’s most famous strongman. He managed to pull a maximum attempt of 453.5 kg or 1,000 lbs on the day, one of six athletes to do so. This was in line with his training, where he managed 455 kg in the gym. Even if he fell short of his PR on competition day, this was still a competition personal best for Nedzmin, who also set a Bosnian record on the day.

T-2: Gabriel Peña, 453.5 kg

Gabriel Peña also managed to break the 1,000 lb barrier at this year’s World Deadlift Championships. This was enough for a new Mexican record, the country Peña represents when he competes. Peña was a bit of a wild card coming into the show, not reknowned for being a top-class static strength athlete. His best training lift leading up to the show was a solid pull at 431 kg at what looked to be about RPE 9. But the Texas Titan as he is known managed to find another gear on competition day, and tied for second place in the event.

T-2: Evan Singleton, 453.5 kg

The only American in the competition, Evan “T-Rex” Singleton sure did find his roar at the World Deadlift Championships this year. Singleton also broke the 1,000 lb barrier, a first in his career in the gym or competition. Evan too was a bit of an unknown entering the competition. He stayed away from posting training footage, so we had no gym lifts to use to predict his performance. Still, Evan is known among other things for being a strong sub-elite strongman deadlifter, so this lift is not totally out of the blue. It was nice to see another American make a strong run at the event win with the evergreen Brian Shaw not present, and I expect big things from Evan moving forward.

T-2: Oleksii Novikov, 453.5 kg

The 2020 World’s Strongest Man, Oleksii is criminally underrated for his static strength on account of his lack of size. He weighs in at under 300 lbs, the lightest at the show, meaning this 1,000 lb pull was well over three times his bodyweight, an incredible feat of strength rarely (if ever) seen with individuals over 200 lbs bodyweight. This lift also set a new Ukrainian record in the deadlift (at least for a short time-more on that in a moment). When one considers that he also holds the world record in the 18” deadlift at a staggering 1185 lbs, it is clear he deserves more credit than he receives for being insanely strong off the floor. Oleksii is definitely one to watch in the future, especially considering he is yet to enter his peak at only 25 years of age.

T-2: Pavlo Nakonechnyy, 453.5 kg

The Ukrainian Giant is the biggest up-and-comer in the sport of strongman today. Formerly a world class powerlifter in his late teens and early 20s, Pavlo is perhaps the most likely to break Bjornsson’s record in the coming years. He was the talk of the town entering this show, as he managed a massive lift of 475 kg in training. Having made the 1,000 lb pull at around RPE 9 on competition day (also tied for the Ukrainian record), he decided to forego the 475 kg option and attempt to break the record with a 505 kg pull. It wasn’t there on the day, and as a result of this miss he only ended up in second; however I don’t think this accurately reflects his strength and potential. Pavlo will break the 500 kg barrier very soon, mark my words.

T-2: Adam Bishop, 453.5 kg

Bish, as he is affectionately known in the strongman community, is the final one of our 6 1,000 lb pullers to discuss. Also a smaller strongman, weighing in at 320 lbs, he is known for his deadlift. This was his first 1,000 lb pull in competition, and the most by an Englishman since Eddie Hall’s famous 500 kg pull in 2016. This is despite an oddly narrow pulling stance from Bishop, but who am I to critique the man pulling over three times his bodyweight and quadruple figures in the deadlift? I do however think this is nearing the ceiling of Bishop’s potential, however, and sure enough he didn’t make another attempt on the day after hitting 453.5 kg. This was also quite the jump from his training cycle prior to the show, where he pulled 427.5 kg at around RPE 8.5. I don’t expect any records out of him, but expect Bish to be in and around the best pullers in the world for years to come.

Winner: Ivan Makarov, 475 kg

Always amongst the favorites in deadlift events, Makarov has been chasing the world record for years now. He has attempted (and failed) 500+ kg pulls in competition three times now, including the 2021 World Deadlift Championships. That being said, 475 kg is nothing to sniff at.

Unlike Nakonechnyy, he chose not to pass on this weight after the 453.5 kg lift, thus securing himself the win. He also came the closest of the pair (no one else attempted 505 kg outside of himself and Pavlo) to breaking the world record, getting the bar to his knees, but in a familiar story was unable to lock the weight out. It may be a planning issue that prevents Ivan from breaking this plateau, as he was pulling 500 kg for reps off blocks less than two weeks before the show, and didn’t help his energy levels or central nervous system by pulling 475 the same day. He did manage to set a Russian record though, and of course won the event. I do think he’ll manage 500 kg in competition one day; the question is if the record will have moved even further beyond him before that. It will be an interesting narrative to follow.