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Wausau man qualifies for IPF World Powerlifting Championships in Malta

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – Powerlifting attracts people of all ages. There are competitions all across the country. Every year, the International Powerlifting Federation hosts the World Championships for the best of the best. This year they will be held in Malta, an island just south of Italy.

Powerlifting tests the three main barbell movements: squat, bench, and deadlift.

In the International Powerlifting Federation, 20-year-old Austin Nikolai competes in the Junior division for ages 19 to 23. He competed in Austin, Texas earlier this month to qualify for Worlds. With that event coming up in the fall, there was not much time to qualify.

Nikolai says the World Powerlifting Championships is like competing for the Olympics. Now, he will be doing just that and proudly representing his country.

He has been working hard to qualify for Worlds for the past two years. He finished with a total of 1,522 Ibs/690.5 kg. Nikolai missed just one of his nine attempts. Your total is your three best lifts for bench, squat, and deadlift.

Nikolai squatted 568.8 lbs/258 kg. He knew before walking to the barbell this was going to set the junior national record.

“We put in a special weight that you can only do for records,” he said. “So yeah, I kind of knew going into it. Plus, then they announce it when you walk out there. Yeah, the crowd gets a little louder.”

Nikolai has competed in several powerlifting meets since he started competing in 2019, but says this one felt different.

“I felt like I had something to work for. Instead of kind of just doing it for fun, it was like, there’s something on the line for this meet,” said Nikolai.

After taking a week off to recover, Nikolai will now turn his attention to prepping for Worlds.

“Next week we kind of start to ramp it up. But this week is just a lighter week to kind of reset the body, starting to get heavier the next couple of weeks,” said Nikolai.

Nikolai will also be competing in a different time zone. So, he has been slowly adjusting his lifting schedule.

“I am lifting at a different time now compared to what I used to. Because the time zone change for Worlds is about like seven hours different,” he said.

Nikolai’s hard work in the gym does not go unnoticed.

“That’s kind of the blessing with Austin. He only has that one speed, and it’s full throttle,” said Joey Vanouse, regional manager at Franck’s Gym. “I mean, he lives to work out. He actually just loves to gym.”

Nikolai will head to the biggest stage in Malta in September. He will be competing in the 66 kg/145 Ib weight class.

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