At the World Powerlifting Congress’s European Championships this weekend, -110kg British powerlifter Tom Martin had a goal.

He didn’t just want to beat the record in his weight class, he wanted to beat the WPC’s all-time total record.

His bicep tendon had other ideas.

Competing raw and with knee wraps (putting him in the “classic raw” division), the good news is that Martin beat the previous record for his weight class with the lifts he did complete, before his competitor Eduard Khanjyan overtook him.

Martin totaled 950kg, eclipsing Finnish athlete Jani-Pekka Eirala’s previous record by a very solid 15 kilograms. His final lifts for the meet were a 360kg squat, 210kg bench, and 380kg deadlift. The deadlift beat the world record for his weight class, set by fellow Briton Sam Bollands last year, by an enormous 30 kilograms.

You can watch all of his completed lifts in the Facebook video below.

But as Martin progressed through his lifts, fellow -110kg competitor Eduard Khanjyan was gaining ground. He squatted 405kg, beating his own previous world record by 5 kilograms, and benched 220kg. You can see Khanjyan’s squat below.

To beat the new total record that he set, Martin would have to make a 411 kilogram deadlift to bring his total to 981kg. (This also would have been a deadlift world record for his weight class.) Unfortunately, the effort tore his bicep from his radius and Khanjyan took home first place for the -110kg division.

Martin wrote of the ordeal,

So, it really looked like I was having a strong day, having secured a 950kg total with only my opening deadlift. It was a good fast 380kg too and left me very confident in my plan to take 411kg for an all time world record and a 981kg total. Sadly my bicep tendon didn’t want to stay attached to my radius so that attempt didn’t go all that well and now I’ll be having a bit of surgery (…)

Eduard Khanjyan (my competition and the winner of my class) and Angelica Khanjyan are bending over backwards trying to get me into surgery as quickly as possible and I’d be completely lost without them. THANK YOU!

We can’t blame Martin for thinking he’d be able to make the lift; he pulled 425kg (937lb) last month, which he documented on Instagram.

Asked in the Instagram comments whether he felt the tear coming before it happened, he answered, “None whatsoever during the day, however I’d been taking antibiotics for the last week and quickly got a lot of joint/tendon pain EVERYWHERE and suspect there is some correlation…”

It’s true that certain antibiotics can significantly increase the risk of tendons rupturing, though of course we can’t say for sure that he wouldn’t have torn his bicep without them.

The mixed grip may also have been a factor. According to Steve Horney, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist based in New York City, the supinated (turned up) bicep is much more prone to bicep tears.

“The root of a problem can also be driven by dysfunction elsewhere,” he says. “For example, if a person’s scap or shoulder isn’t stable, the bicep becomes more vulnerable. Eccentrics and avoiding overload appear to be the best approach for prevention.”

In any case, it’s a real shame that Martin now has to endure surgery and physical therapy to get him back to his peak. We wish him all the best with his recovery.

Featured image via Tom Martin on Facebook.


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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.