Local lifters out to impress

AARON GOILE
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014
Reuben Simanu

IT'S ALL YOU BRO: Whakatane's Reuben Simanu, squatting 372.5kg at last year's Commonwealth Championships.

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Lifting three times your body weight may sound impossible, but head to the University of Waikato's rec centre tomorrow to see how it's done.

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty powerlifting championships come to the city for the first time in a decade. With Hamilton's Rajah Singh taking over as secretary for the region's association, the event that has recently been held in Tauranga has had a change in venue, moving to where 80 per cent of the lifters are based.

With several of them injured, moving away or having time off after last year's Commonwealth Championships, there will be 26 competing tomorrow.

The association has 43 registered lifters and is aiming for 50 by the end of the year and 100 in the next two to three years, by holding free coaching clinics for novices. It is also keen for more females to take up the sport, which promotes strength and conditioning, without always looking like raw muscle. As Singh points out, many people take it up as a sport to supplement their main code.

Powerlifting features three events - squat, bench press and deadlift - while there are four age-grades - sub-junior (under-18), junior (18-24), open and masters (40+) - and eight weight classes, the top being 120kg+.

Along with his administrative duties, Singh still competes, in the open, under-66kg division, and has lost 9kg since taking up the sport four years ago. The 32-year-old was third at the Oceania Championships two years ago, third in the bench press at last year's Commonwealth champs, and holds all Waikato records in his weight class. Tomorrow he is aiming for a triple body weight deadlift.

The highlight of the meet will be Whakatane's Reuben Simanu, who qualifies for both open and masters and is in the top weight class. The national and Oceania record-holder is opening with a 200kg bench press, 280kg deadlift, and 350kg squat - where he'll be looking to go close to 400kg.

The numbers are mind-blowing, but it's also worth pointing out the sport is drug-free, endorsed by Sport NZ and the International Powerlifting Federation.

A number of competitors on show will also be setting their sights on the North Island champs in Tauranga in July, the national champs in Christchurch in September and the Oceania champs in Melbourne in December.

Tomorrow's action gets under way at 11am and runs till about 5pm.

Entry is via a gold coin donation.

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- Fairfax Media

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