Gold rush for Singapore's powerlifters
Singapore took home 41 gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals at the Dec 4-8 Asian Classic Powerlifting Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The Republic, who were represented by a 17-strong contingent of five women and 12 men, also bagged several Asian records at the meet, which saw the participation of 253 athletes from 18 nations.
Powerlifting is a strength sport in which athletes lift the heaviest weight in the squat, bench press and deadlift.
Seven athletes won four gold medals each. They are women powerlifters Thor Qian Qi (Under-52kg junior), Carrie Choy (U-63kg Master 1) and Hiromi Takeuchi (U-47kg Master 1); and men's powerlifters Matthias Yap (U-74kg sub-junior), Mitchell Lim (U-53 junior), Zack Toh (U-59 Master 1) and Martin Schweiger (120-plus kg Master 2).
Female powerlifter Farhanna Farid, who won three gold medals in the women's U-52 open category, also became the first Singaporean to clinch an overall gold medal internationally in the open division, across all weight classes. She was also named the second best female lifter of the open category.
The 26-year-old, who also won a bronze in the bench press (60kg), was tops in her weight category for the squat (120kg), deadlift (Asian record of 173kg) and overall.
Farhanna, who made her competitive debut at the Singapore Powerlifting Open in April, surprised the crowd with an easy 160.5kg attempt before surpassing it twice with 170.5kg and 173kg efforts, becoming the first woman in Singapore to deadlift over three times her bodyweight.
She said: “This year’s Asian Classic was the ultimate goal for me. The plan was to come here, get the gold medals, and the Asian record.”
However, it was not all smooth-sailing for the pint-sized athlete. She came into the regionals with a back injury, and had not deadlifted in over three weeks prior to competition day.
Speaking of her final deadlift attempt, in which she lifted 173kg, she laughed: “The bar did not move for three whole seconds! I think I gave everyone on the Singapore team a near-heart attack. Everyone’s heart sank and thought I would not get it. But I wasn’t letting go of the bar. I wanted it so much I kept pulling, and finally it flew upwards!”
Juggling her full-time job as a pharmacist with powerlifting, Farhanna trains four times a week, with each training session lasting up to three hours.
4 GOLDS FOR THOR
Besides her four-gold haul, Thor, 19, also pulled a 145.5kg deadlift for an Asian record in the women's U-52kg junior category.
The Nanyang Polytechnic student also achieved a squat of 130kg and a bench press of 65kg to erase the national junior and open records. For her achievements, she was named the third best female lifter of the junior category.
Thor, who took nearly a year's break from competing due to school work, said: “I had not intended on competing this year, and was training towards the next national-level championships in Singapore in March 2019.
"However, when the opportunity came up through my nomination to be part of the Singapore team, I seized it! We were eight weeks out from competition, and my coach ramped up my training, to help me peak.”
Thor started training seriously again only in July. She trains five times a week, each time for three hours.
Teammate Venus Tang, 25, bagged one gold and three silver medals in the women’s U-57kg open category, while two female Master 1 athletes Choy and Takeuchi also stood out with four-gold feats and were named the best and third-best female Master 1 lifters respectively.
Choy, 41, who represented Singapore in judo from 1992 to 1997, was glad to be donning national colours again.
She said: “I never imagined I would be standing on the podium again wearing the Singapore flag, especially with an old shoulder injury. It was a good experience, and I am glad to be able to win the four gold medals for Singapore.”
The male powerlifters also held their own against the region's best.
Norfatris Danial won gold medals for deadlift and overall in the men's U-83kg junior category. The 22-year-old, who broke his category's Asian deadlift record twice with 281kg and 293kg efforts, also won the silver medal for the squat.
Matthew Yap, 19, achieved a 248kg squat, winning the gold medal and smashing the Asian record in the men’s U-74kg junior category. He also bagged a bronze in the bench press, a silver in the deadlift, and the overall gold medal, and was named the second best lifter in the junior category.
His brother Matthias, 18, swept all four gold medals on offer in the U-74kg sub-junior category when he triumphed in the squat (200kg), bench press (110kg) and deadlift (227.5kg), which gave him a combined total of 537.5kg.