When Tristan Tillman walked into West Workout in Somerset West to do his usual gym routine on Saturday March 5, he had no idea that he’d end up on the podium as top junior in the 100% Raw Powerlifting competition which took place later that day.
“I’d been away from the gym for a while, and I was just getting back into it over the last few months, and I had no intention go competing, but Howard Cladingbowl persuaded me to enter,” said Tristan, who has never lifted competitively before. “I trust Howard’s judgement, so I decided to enter.”
A quick weigh-in to determine weight category, and the obligatory wee-wee in the little plastic bottle (for drug testing purposes), and Tristan was kitted out with a vest, and the competition got under way.
The relatively small field waltzed through three rounds of each of three disciplines – squat, benchpress and deadlift – egged on by an enthusiastic audience.
Tristan’s total (the sum of the heaviest weight lifted in each of the three disciplines) was 330kg, which gave him the junior title.
Nina Nazura, another Somerset West resident, took the women’s title with a total of 170kg, while Remi Fredericks, who hails from Cape Town, took the men’s senior title with a 482.5kg total.
After the prizegiving, competition convener and head judge, Mr Cladingbowl, spoke about the state of raw powerlifting in South Africa.
“It was a disappointingly small field,” he said. “The Western Province team won the team trophy three years running (2007 to 2009) at the South African national powerlifting championships. We used to field a team of over 20 lifters.
“Part of the problem, is the confusion between raw powerlifting on the one hand, and the use of equipment (bench shirts, knee wraps) on the other. Equipment allows a lifter to lift up to a 150kg more than a raw powerlifter, who may use only a belt and wrist wraps,” said Mr Cladingbowl.
“That’s very demoralising for new young lifters. Raw powerlifting levels the playing field, because the difference between intermediate and advanced lifters is much smaller,” he said.
“Powerlifting also complements sporting codes, such as rugby, hockey and athletics, be-cause it improves strength and balance, a good reason for people who play those sports, and are serious about it, to consider powerlifting.”
He said to attract more lifters to competitions, sponsorships are needed to ensure more significant prizes.
The next competition – national championships – is set for July 23, and it will be by invitation only. “We need to put together a team for 100% Raw Powerlifting world championships which take place in America some time in October or November,” Mr Cladingbowl said.
“The competition will be hosted here (at West Workout, Fountain Square, Main Road, Somerset West), and it will be an invitational competition. We need experienced lifters on the platform, from which to select a national team. Anybody who would like to compete, can contact me so that I can assess their capability on the platform before the competition.”
* Call Mr Cladingbowl on 021 851 2273 if you’d like to be assessed to compete in the July competition.