Australian Powerlifting Championships

Seventeen lifters from Melbourne University took part at the 2009 Australian Powerlifting Championships and so probability was on our side. Three winners and a host of placings meant that the club took out the Best Club Men for the third time in the three years it has been awarded (and probably the 15th plus time if the scores from the 1991 beginning of the new era of Powerlifting were all added up). However in the Women’s classes Melbourne Uni was absent bar 72 year old Sonja Rutherford pulling off third in the 67.5kg class. I wonder why it is that women don’t seem to last long in the intellectual hotpot that is the Melbourne University gym?

Chris Seville squatting his way to a win in the 82.5kg class

Anyway, in the “Classic” (ha) competition Alistair Baillie improved to 507.5kg at 75kg to win the coveted “Best LeftOver” trophy (which for some strange reason also seems to always go to Melbourne Uni). Another standout Melbourne Uni Leftover was Garish Shanker with 542.5kg at 90kg, after obliterating precious brain cells on the bar and still doing a best total despite suffering a concussion the severity of which was demonstrated by his choices later in the evening. And then we had Simon the Likeable Close with 475kg at 82.5kg. Greg Peiris also in his first comp at 100kg and ancient John Rutherford, still battling on with 437.5 at 82.5kg.

On to the Championships proper and an ignominious start with Minh Nguyen stone motherless last in the 67.5kg class – yet Minh’s 512.5kg was 20kg above his best and he did not fall over on any of his lifts, nor have to be cut out of any suits, so it was all good. Survival is the name of the game for Neville Harris at this stage and he nursed himself through to a hardy win at 75kg. The pace quickened in the 82.5kg class where Chris Seville was steady in never really being threatened for a win with 662.5kg

The third win in a row came in the 90kg class, with a sub-par David Jame finding expected challenges not to emerge. Also at 90kg Club visitor Wim Van Weenen pulled an Over 70 World Deadlift Record, before rushing off to more pressing assignations.

In the heavy classes the going got tougher. A Master of Laws and an MBA did not render Chris Schaerf capable of rational thought in the 100kg class and the lure of even figures saw him bomb on 200kg Bench Press. Before that Chris was promising with 275kg Squat, but the ringing in his ears of DeLulio’s laughter from afar saw Chris constrained to a similar figure in the Deadlift. At 125kg Con Barbakos improved to the magical 800kg level but still has more that can be drawn from the well. Also at 125kg Luke Bainbridge had to restrain himself before September’s World Junior Championships, but came through with an Australian Junior Total Record of 735kg.

Billionaire Borneo Bench-Presser Darren Low deserves a story to himself. After about a dozen training sessions for the year he boldly started with an AJR in the 125kg Bench Press Championships and equally boldly bombed. Undeterred, down to the pizza shop went Darren, an hour later he weighed in 3kg heavier and then defied the naysayers by again starting with an Australian Junior Record. And this time he got it! 202.5kg! Breaking totally free from reality Darren then called for 242.5kg, the spotters were nervous but nothing was going to stop Darren – nothing except 242.5kg of merciless iron that is and twice the audience was treated to some eerie supine contortions. But with eleven Bench bombs from the 100kg upwards lifters, somehow this Darren-Mania seemed normal – almost.

Next year there will be a double challenge for the club, as we will be hosting the Australian Championships and needing to build quality in the Special part of the world that is our membership, all the while meeting the University’s requirements. But for 30 years now we have come up with something exciting, strange and unexpected and 2010 will be no exception.

-Robert Wilks

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