Why Orhan Bilican’s World Record 430kg Squat Didn’t Count

A pretty unusual thing happened at the Western European Equipped & Classic Powerlifting Championships, which took place this week in Luxembourg City.

The -120kg Belgian powerlifter Orhan Bilican, competing as an equipped athlete, made two squats: 400kg (882lb) and 430kg (948lb). You can watch the 430kg squat below and as you can see, it’s remarkably deep.

Had it been counted, this would be a new world record in the -120kg weight class. But according to the IPF, it doesn’t count. Why? Because Bilican didn’t bench enough.

The thing with powerlifting is that it’s a sport comprised of three lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. You can’t just squat, even if you have the best squat on Earth. So according to the IPF, for a squat like this to count, “the lifter must make a bona fide attempt on each of the three disciplines (…) i.e. weights attempted must be within his reasonable capabilities.”

This is to make sure an athlete doesn’t turn up, do a world record squat, then just bench and deadlift a barbell with two plates on either end. But “bona fide” and “reasonable capabilities” can be a little tough to decipher, so according to Belgian powerlifter Jeroen Van Heesvelde (who posted the video and trains with Bilican) Bilican approached the judges for some clarity. How much would he have to bench for the squat to count?

According to Heesvelde, the answer he received was 240 kilograms (529 pounds), or double bodyweight. That’s just 13 kilograms shy of the raw bench press world record. He was competing as an equipped athlete, where the world record is much higher (356 kilograms), but that’s still quite a lift. They were in a conundrum, as Bilican was told that he wasn’t allowed to open his bench press raw and he was recovering from shoulder pain that could make it risky to open with a heavy, equipped bench. In Van Heesvelde’s words,

if you want to play safe and open raw, your opener is 10kg under the World classic bench record!

If you open 240kg equipped, there’s NO WAY you touch…

That means the only option was to stick to the submitted opener and hope for the best.

Bench is always risky equipped, and this time, unfortunately it didn’t work out again on the right moment.

Bilican failed all his attempts at the bench press and was disqualified, his squat not counting.

He wrote a comment on his Facebook wall in Flemish (a form of Dutch spoken in northern Belgium) that reads (translated via Google translate),

By far my most beautiful 430 kg squat ever! I have no choice but to be proud of it. I knew that the bench press, due to an earlier injury, was a risk. My first attempt at a raw bench to secure the world record squat was not allowed by the contest (…)

Too bad. That’s all I’m gonna say.

There has been a lot of discussion about this event in the powerlifting community, with some claiming that there should be more concrete rules about acceptable lift numbers. What do you think?

Featured image via @jeroenvh105 on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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