Agata Sitko — Poland’s Powerlifting Powerhouse Comes of Age

In the wake of her incredible win at the 2024 Sheffield Powerlifting Championships, it’s time to look at the short and incandescent career of Poland’s prodigious powerlifting star, Agata Sitko.

Sitko burst onto the competitive powerlifting scene in 2021, winning the Junior 76-kilogram class at the 2021 European Powerlifting Federation (EPF) European Equipped Championships (EEC) in style. She competed in her home nation of Poland for a few years but had to wait to step onto the international stage until after the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted.

In her international debut, Sitko broke the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Junior world deadlift record with an impressive 215-kilogram pull.

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A post shared by Agata Sitko (@ja.gata_sitko)

Sitko followed her debut appearance only three weeks later at the 2021 IPF World Junior Championships (WJC) in Romania. Lifting equipped, Sitko went head-to-head with a legend of the sport, Germany’s Sonja Stefanie Krüger.

Barely out of the Sub-Junior category (ages 14-18), Sitko pushed Krüger harder than she expected and took the silver medal. Krüger managed to stave off the young talent, but Sitko extended her Junior deadlift world record to 218 kilograms en route to a silver medal. Check out that lift below:

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A post shared by IPF Powerlifting (@theipf)

One month later, Sitko returned to the platform at the 2021 IPF Classic World Championships (CWC) in Halmstad, Sweden. She couldn’t keep pace with Sweden’s Vilma Olsson and was again awarded a silver medal.

Sitko nonetheless continued her appointments with the record books, breaking her first classic (i.e., raw) world record with a massive 125.5-kilogram bench press.

A Prodigious Talent Emerges

Toward the end of 2021, Sitko took the leap into Open competition. She stunned the world by winning the 2021 IPF World Equipped Championships (WEC) in Stavanger, Norway, at only 18 years old.

Sitko kept the record keepers busy, pushing her Junior deadlift world record to 230 kilograms and breaking the Junior total world record with 650 kilograms.

Breaking through in classic competition at the 2021 IPF WEC proved great timing as it qualified Sitko for the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, AL.

In May 2022, Sitko scored her second Junior equipped European title, but this time in the 84-kilogram class. She broke 23 records, including European Junior, Junior, and Open world records — Sitko broke Open world records via an incredible 251.5 kilograms in the deadlift and a 704.5 kilogram total.

The world was waking up to Sitko, and the powerlifting community clamored for her to compete at the 2022 CWC in Sun City, South Africa, even though it was only one month before The World Games.

Sitko rose to the challenge and gave Canada’s Jessica Buettner the fight of her life in the 76-kilogram class. It was a good opportunity for Sitko to pick up the Open world record in the bench press with 145 kilograms.

With her final deadlift, Sitko broke the total world record with 585 kilograms and moved into the lead. Buettner responded with 261.5 kilograms — the biggest raw deadlift ever seen in the IPF at the time. That lift scored Buettner the title on bodyweight, but the total world record stayed with Sitko.

In July 2022, Sitko returned to equipped lifting at The World Games in the 76-kilogram class. Despite her competition being marred by technical issues, she took the heavyweight gold medal — the first Polish woman to do so. Sitko also won the Best Lifter award based on GL points and moved into the top spot in the global IPF equipped rankings.

Many world and European records fell at The World Games in 2022. Sitko shattered the bench press world record with 195 kilograms, extended the deadlift world record to 261 kilograms, and added nearly 65 kilograms to Tetyana Melnyk’s total world record, finishing with 726 kilograms.

The Ubiquitous Champion

Only seven weeks passed before Sitko appeared on the platform again at the Junior 84-kilogram class at the 2022 Junior Classic World Championships. She nudged her own bench press world record with 147.5 kilograms and won her first classic world title, albeit in the Junior category.

Another three weeks passed, and Sitko popped up in the UK, winning the equipped bench press section of the Arnold Sports Festival UK.

Sitko’s sixth and final international meet of 2022 was the EPF European Classic, where she competed in the open 84-kilogram class, taking the gold medal but, for once, no world records.

Sitko started to slow down, picking and choosing her competitions more carefully. Her performance in 2022 won her a spot at the inaugural Sheffield Powerlifting Championships in March 2023 — a big-money meet held in the UK, featuring 24 of the world’s best lifters battling for cash prizes and world records.

Unfortunately, Sitko entered the 2023 Sheffield injured and did not contest for overall placings. She opened on a world record bench press attempt of 146 kilograms but hit trouble when she missed her first two attempts. Fortunately, she secured it on her third and took home £5,000 in prize money as a result.

Image via @sbdsheffield on Instagram

The 2023 IPF CWC in Malta featured a widely anticipated re-match between Sitko and Buettner with the added complication of a new challenger: New Zealand’s Karlina Tongotea. Tongotea was on a hot streak after she had recently broken the total world record with 600 kilograms at the 2022 Commonwealth Championships.

Sitko was down on her best squat but nudged the bench press world record up to 153 kilograms. Tongotea was on a mission, though, and even a personal best total for Sitko couldn’t get her into first place. Sitko finished in the silver medal position for the second year in a row.

The Age of Agata

Once again, Sitko’s performance at Classic Worlds earned her a spot at 2024 Sheffield. However, she announced that, in 2024, she would compete in the 69-kilogram class. This seemed like a risky move for a lifter who had hopped between the 76 kilograms and 84 kilograms classes.

However, given Sheffield’s unusual format of scoring lifters based on their proportion of the total world records in their class, the 69-kilogram class offered Sitko a sweet spot.

Unsurprisingly, Sitko wasn’t the only lifter to make this kind of move. The 2023 world champion in the 69-kilogram class, France’s Lya Bavoil, was an obvious favorite to attempt a title defense. However, Italy’s Carola Garra, who won the 2023 world title in the 63-kilogram class, threw her hat into the 69-kilogram ring, giving a three-way match-up for the ages.

Amidst the noise and lights of Sheffield City Hall, Bavoil and Garra tossed the squat world record back and forth while Sitko put in the work behind them, hitting not far off her lifetime personal best. This was the first hint that the weight cut had not hurt Sitko much.

Sitko was expected to be behind after squats but countered by breaking Jennifer Thompson’s long-standing bench press world record on her opening lift. Garra took it back with her second bench, but Sitko was unstoppable and broke the record twice more, finishing up with 154 kilograms and winning £5,000 off the back of it.

Sitko was marginally ahead of Bavoil and nearly 20 kilos behind Garra heading into the deadlifts. However, the deadlift was Garra’s weakest lift, and as such, her lead quickly eroded.

Garra’s opening gambit of 202.5 kilograms broke the total world record by over 20 kilograms. Bavoil hit 225 kilograms to match Garra, but did not take the total record as Garra had claimed it first. It was soon a moot point as Sitko opened heavy with 235 kilograms and shot into the lead, adding 14 more kilograms to the total world record.

Bavoil and Garra remained neck-and-neck in the second round. Still, Sitko pulled ahead, breaking Kimberly Walford’s deadlift world record with a smooth 242 kilograms and pushing the total record further.

Garra went all out for 225 kilograms to try to take the lead on her final attempt but missed. Bavoil immediately dropped her attempt to 237.5 kilograms, aiming for second place rather than challenge for gold. It was a wise choice, perhaps, as Sitko seemed limitless.

Sitko charged the platform and made short work of 248.5 kilograms for the deadlift world record, the total world record, the Sheffield title, and £40,000 in prize money.

Image via @sbdsheffield on Instagram

The “Polish Powerhouse” had finally put in a perfect performance. She went nine-for-nine, hitting lifetime personal bests despite dropping down a weight class. Her final total was 600 kilograms — the number she proclaimed she would hit at the Sheffield — more than 50 kilograms over the existing world record.

Where Next?

After such a dominant performance, what’s next for Agata Sitko? Quite a lot, actually.

Sitko will hit the platform again in March at the 2024 Arnold UK, competing in classic powerlifting and the equipped bench. She then has unfinished business at Classic Worlds, one of the few competitions Sitko hasn’t won yet in the Open class. Sitko will compete in the 76-kilogram class, which promises an exciting rematch against Tongotea.

Later in the year, Sitko plans to compete in the 84-kilogram class at the 2024 Equipped World Championships in Iceland. Could Sitko win three major IPF championships in three different weight classes in one year? We’ll have to tune in to find out.

Featured image: @sbdsheffield on Instagram

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