MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY AT THE END OF YEAR CONTESTS
Three contests, three sets of extremes. Triumph, trauma and the outright strange was dished up by Melbourne Uni lifters at three contests on three weekends at the end of 2010 – just as it had been all through the year.
HAWTHORN EXTRAVAGANZA 28 NOVEMBER
If quality won’t win the day, use quantity. 15 and a few halves Uni lifters swarmed over the Hawthorn venue and overwhelmed the standing-room-only audience (SRO as there were no chairs) at the state Weightlifting Centre venue.
But those hardy few spectators were taken on an emotional roller coaster. At one end was Stephen Pritchard benching 300kg, one of Australia’s all-time great performances; then came enigmatic newcomer Paul Woodbury who contorted his way through 9 lifts that stunned the Referees into giving mostly white lights. The oddity continued with Club associate Wim Van Weenen lifting an unknown number of times in most or all of the Raw PL, Raw BP, Equipped PL and Equipped BP.
Things seemed to be going downhill from there, when Club bankrupt and renegade Garish Shanker challenged his own title for the World’s Stupidest Squat (180kg at the 2009 Nationals, when the only part of his body to touch the bar was his head). Three excruciatingly slow, absurdly high Squats were scoffed at by the Referees, but as no blood was split Garish’s Sydney Title still stands.
However some dignity was then injected into proceedings, starting with Michael Censori getting B Grade after an ill-advised failure at that level last time. Irish Marcus Flanagan improved to a Raw 412.5kg (2.5kg short of Nationals qualifying as it later turned out), whilst Adam Trudgon shocked with a Junior Raw BP Record of 130kg. However we were plunged back into dubious territory when Minh Nguyen had a 162.5kg “Bench” passed, the time-warped Referees applying 2011 rules, or perhaps those of the 1960s.
MATTI TIKKA CHALLENGE, SYDNEY 4 DECEMBER
Onwards to windswept Sydney and a more select crew of four lifters again turned on a mixed bag, albeit one of higher quality than the histrionics of Hawthorn.
David Jame was the standout, an Australian Record Squat of 340kg at 100kg being a pop-up compared to his 330kg epic of last July. Disappointing Deadlift misses on 315kg held David’s total to 815kg, but 830-840kg will come next year. Corresponding member Sean Muir defied the laws of Gerentology by coming through after 10 years of trying with a 691kg 75kg. Australian Total Record, a figure for the ages now that the bodyweight classes have changed.
Back in Struggle Street, Sean “The Penniless” Connelly was left reaching for his wallet again, this time for new shoes after red lights for foot position stymied him in the Bench Press. Small Luke Helmke improved to 587.5kg but his Bodybuilding brain just cannot be turned off and all his lifts were slow and painful, including 2 Deadlifts ground up to 1cm short of lockout and left in a statuesque pose unimpressive to the Referees.
OCEANIA CHAMPIONSHIPS, SAMOA 10 & 11 DECEMBER
The final, big event of the year took place in tropical Apia, the heat was on four University lifters and they responded in suitably exotic style.
Minh Nguyen bombed three times, or not at all, depending on your point of view. Lifting despite expert Psychiatric opinion to refrain, Minh squatted 60kg then was carried off, as was inevitable, after another quad tear on 202.5kg. Next a clear-cut miss on three Benches, this set of Referees being firmly oriented in the realities of 2010. Undeterred, the next day Minh came out with another mighty 60kg performance in the BP-Only before 162.5kg contortions once again failed to fool the Referees.
But worse was to come in the 82.5kg class. Look up the Powerlifting history books and under “Strange Squats”, right beneath the picture of Garish, you will see the story of Ron Collins attempting 340kg six times for six depth misses at the 1981 World Championships. Chris Seville went close to that, opening passably on 267.5kg, but then after a saga too long to describe of returns-of-bar, protests and appeals, took out an Australian Record 280kg also six times, for a mixture of reds, whites, confusion and angst, but in the end a null result. More surprising were Chris’ reds on some good-looking Benches and the sting was gone by Deadlift time.
And on the drama went in the 100kg class. Chris Schaerf had yet another character building experience, with Squat depth and a mysterious suit financier continuing to dog him. Still, Chris came back with a best ever Bench of 212.5kg before heavy Deadlifting proved futile. Finally came the saving performances of Blind lifter Peks Nanai. Disoriented and setting up sideways Peks still squatted 252.5kg, was spot on with a 230kg Bench and finished with 252.5kg Deadlift and a best Total by 25kg at 735kg.
And that rounded out 2010 for the Club. On the horizon for 2011 are the new Raw category, new bodyweight classes and guaranteed organizational chaos at the Australian Championships, in a new venue after marching orders were received from yet another hotel in 2010. Stay tuned for more melodrama, psychopathology and outstanding lifting performances from Melbourne University Powerlifting Club.
– Robert Wilks