It was the greatest
event never
to happen

by SBD Apparel
The Sheffield 2020 Powerlifting Championships was designed to elevate the sport of powerlifting, bringing together world champions and elite strength athletes from six continents to clash for the title of champion of champions, and to add an all-star event for powerlifting fans that would see world records shattered.

As a result of COVID-19 the event could not go ahead as planned, but nonetheless the idea has since inspired athletes and coaches who are keen to see the presentation of powerlifting advance. The community continued to discuss the event, and its name has been at the heart of conversations about where the sport could go next.

It is easy to forget how much ground powerlifting has covered in so little time. Around a decade ago in 2013, only 774 lifters competed in British Powerlifting events. By 2019, the peak year for participation to date, this had risen by more than 350% to some 3,576 athletes, according to OpenIPF data. Globally, participation and interest in powerlifting has been booming also.

With it the standard of competitions, and lifters’ expectations for them, have risen accordingly. We have not seen a truly professional-looking event in the sport of powerlifting, and through our partnership with the IPF, Sheffield was conceived to show that this could now be done.

Taking place in the historic Sheffield City Hall venue, which allows for thousands of spectators, and a range of ticket packages, including meet and greets and pre-show events, this would go beyond a spectator-friendly event, and become a true celebration of the sport.

We went to pains to treat the athletes like stars, considering every detail and going so far as to ensure catering would include low sodium options for those making weight for the event. The plan was to create a competition that matched the quality that SBD has become synonymous with.


One can understand why some were skeptical that an event as ambitious as Sheffield would ever happen after the painful 2020 cancellation.

But failing to go through with Sheffield was never an option, and the positivity we heard about the event - and speculation about what shape a relaunched Sheffield could take - fuelled our excitement to develop the competition and make it a reality as soon as possible.

Last week we made clear that the event would indeed go ahead, and the Sheffield 2023 Powerlifting Championships were announced. Taking place next March, SBD will assemble 24 of the world's best powerlifters for a single day of spectacle.

The SBD team has laid the foundations for an event that would be a significant improvement over our plans for Sheffield 2020, with updates to the qualifying criteria, scoring system, and a larger prize pool than the previously announced £250,000 level (already a record in the sport). Details will be shared in the coming weeks.

Sheffield will allow us to give back to the sport’s athletes and its fans - who have supported us for so long - in a way never seen before in powerlifting. We also hope that it will provide inspiration for other competition directors, from regional competitions up to the national and international level.

Recent national competitions across Europe have shown that the standard is already rising, both in terms of strength, and in presentation. The French and Swedish nationals featured stunning venues, and at the British men’s and women’s classic nationals, a vastly improved livestream was enjoyed by thousands of viewers.

Our ambition is to push even further, and to invest in powerlifting’s next phase.

Amazon-owned Twitch hosted two of its own powerlifting-style events in 2021, putting their own spin on the sport. These Power Meet streams saw greater viewership than any such event before, with live viewership peaking well into the hundreds of thousands, and recordings garnering millions of views.

By investing in premium events and supporting athletes, we can reach wider audiences, ultimately leading to more support for our sport and inviting more people than ever before to share in our passions for moving heavy weights.

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