Tongotea’s squat was a perfect way to top a monstrous performance.

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During the 2023 International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Classic Powerlifting Championships, Karlina Tongotea scored a 225.5-kilogram (497.1-pound) raw back squat. The mark is an official IPF World Record in the 76-kilogram division, where Tongotea eventually came out victorious ahead of notable peers like Agata Sitko and former two-time defending champion (2021-2022) Jessica Buettner. Tongotea broke her own squat record of 223.5 kilograms (492.7 pounds) from the 2023 Sheffield Powerlifting Championships by 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).

Tongotea wore a lifting belt and knee sleeves, and utilized wrist wraps to help herself rewrite the IPF record books with her squat. That equipment qualifies as raw in a sanctioned powerlifting context. The 2023 IPF Worlds took place in Valletta, Malta, from June 11-18, 2023. The 2023 edition of the contest was Tongotea’s debut at the prestigious competition, and she made the most of this initial appearance by winning her first IPF World title.

Before breaking through on one of the biggest international stages, Tongotea primarily made her trade as a prolific New Zealand powerlifter. According to her personal page on Open Powerlifting, Tongotea is the reigning raw New Zealand National Champion (2022) and has dominated in other competitive strength capacities throughout the famed Oceania islands.

Here’s an overview of the competitor’s top stats from the 2023 IPF Worlds:

Karlina Tongotea (76KG) | 2023 IPF Worlds Top Stats

  • Squat — 225.5 kilograms (497.1 pounds) | IPF World Record
  • Bench Press — 122.5 kilograms (270.1 pounds)
  • Deadlift — 245 kilograms (540.1 pounds)
  • Total — 593 kilograms (1,307.3 pounds)

After an appearance in the United Kingdom during the 2023 Sheffield Championships, Tongotea has now competed just three times outside of the purview of Australia and New Zealand. The athlete can boast 12 victories in 16 competitive appearances dating back to the start of her career in April 2018.

In a post in the 2023 IPF Worlds’ aftermath, Tongotea seemed emotional about her competitive journey. The athlete, who is a doctor by trade, looked back on her tremendous progress over the last half-decade and took in the fact that she is now on top of one of powerlifting’s tallest summits.

Of course, she plans to stay there.

“I walked into [New Zealand Powerlifting Academy] in 2018 telling my coach, ‘I have one year to enjoy this sport before I start GP training and exams,’ and I got back the message in this post. We’ve kept this one between ourselves. We remembered it when I won my first nationals, when I first became No. 1 in New Zealand when I won a [World Powerlifting] title, but it never quite felt like we’d fulfilled it yet. Now, I’m an IPF Classic Open World Champion of the [76-kilogram division], and I couldn’t have done it without this partnership. It feels fulfilled. We did the damn thing, Dom [Tongotea’s coach]. We gotta do it again, though.”

Featured image: @theipf on Instagram

About Robert Zeglinski

Robert is a seasoned and adept editor and writer with a keen, passionate penchant for the writing craft. He’s been a leader in newsrooms such as SB Nation, USA TODAY, and WBBM Newsradio, with various other content and art production teams, and first made a name for himself in his hometown of Chicago. When not knee-deep in research or lost in a stream of consciousness for a thorough piece, you can find Robert inhaling yet another novel, journaling his heart out, or playing with his Shiba Inu, Maximus (Max, for short).

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