As I wrote a while back I'm into weightlifting, but recently I had been having trouble with motivation, as my training, though enjoyable, didn’t really have a goal. So a while back I competed in the Osaka powerlifting championships. Despite the fact that powerlifting is about as popular in Japan as sumo is in America (not very), there is a devoted community of lifters here in Japan. Although there were not many competitors at the Osaka Powerlifting Championships, the atmosphere was great, and it was cool to meet people into the same stuff.
The tournament was held in a community gym way down in the southern part of Osaka, with about 30 or so people coming out to compete. Powerlifting, for those of you who’ve never heard, is a sport where you test strength across three barbell lifts, and the person who moves the most weight wins. Simple right?
The three lifts are the squat, where you put barbell on your back and squat down, the bench press, where you lie on a bench and press the bar up, and the deadlift, which is just picking up the barbell from the floor. Competitors are split up into weight and age brackets, and though technically a competition, for most people it was more about breaking their own records. Still, it seemed like every other lift was an attempt at a Japanese record, and 40 were actually broken.
The competitors ranged from 15 to 63, with many in their 40s and 50s. People of all strength levels and experience showed up, and though many competitors were part of school clubs or gyms, there were a lot of other folk competing by themselves. I was clearly on the lower end of both strength and experience, but many of the experiences folk were more than happy to talk and explain things. Competitors would go up to do their lift, get intensely fired up, and have everybody in the gymnasium cheering for them as they pushed themselves to the limit to lift the bar.
Also, a young guy apparently ranked third in the world for his weight class showed up, and it was really cool to see someone at such a high level competing. Also, the fact that his legs looked like two beluga whales was kind of terrifying. I felt about as weak as possible when he, at about 160 lbs, deadlifted 570 lbs and squatted 500 without too much strain, but I guess that’s just how world class guys are.
Sadly I didn't win anything, as the only other guy in my division broke every single Japanese record for our weight and age group, but it was still good to participate and see where I stand in comparison to other lifters. Seeing where I lagged behind, as well as what my strengths are, has lit a fire under my bum. So I'm back in the gym, working on what I need to, and aiming to do much better next time round.