World champ ambitions for powerlifters

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013
Southland powerlifters
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

PROUD WINNERS: Southland powerlifters, from left, Andy Mahon, Bronwyn Stevens, Ashley Templeton and Cameron Andrews with their medals.

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In recent times, Southland has been regarded the unofficial home for the sport of powerlifting in New Zealand and that tag has now been attached with an even firmer grip.

Southland has produced many standout powerlifters over the years with the most recent being world champion Sonia Manaena.

To put it in prospective Southland coach Brian Jenkins can't think of a New Zealand powerlifter who has attended a world championships in the past decade who wasn't from Invercargill.

In June there will be yet another world championships, this time held in South Africa, and potentially five Southlanders could be flying the province's flag at the event.

Manaena was always looking to head to South Africa to defend her title but now four other Southlanders are also aiming to join her following strong performances at the recent Oceania and Commonwealth championships in Auckland.

Andy Mahon has previously attended a world championships and is eyeing a return next year after delivering a record-breaking performance in Auckland to qualify.

The 101kg open grade lifter squatted close to three times his body weight with his lift of 302.5kg, smashing the previous Commonwealth record of 285kg.

He won gold medals in the squat, bench, dead lift and overall categories.

Seventeen-year-old James Hargest College student Cameron Andrews has had just six months competing in the sport but he, too, got into the record-breaking act in Auckland recently.

Competing in the 83kg class he broke the New Zealand under-18 age-group record for the squat, lifting 192kg - the previous best being 185kg - and now he, too, is eyeing a possible trip to South Africa.

Ashley Templeton is another newcomer to the sport who has excelled and wants a shot on the world stage.

At the Oceania and Commonwealth Games, Templeton dominated the junior 63kg division, as did Bronwyn Stevens in the junior 60kg division.

The quest for the successful Southlanders is now to take on the world, which is easier said than done. For a start, they need to find the money to make it happen.

Jenkins has full faith in them that they can mark a mark at world level.

"They're all keen and excited to give it a crack and it will be the first time for most of them," Jenkins said.

"I wouldn't take them over there if I didn't think we could perform to that medal situation or close to it."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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