Another huge Fitness Expo was the host for another huge Powerlifting event – the combined Australian Championships and Pacific Invitational at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The Nationals were restricted to the 80 best lifters in the country and the result was 6 sessions of quality lifting.
In the Women’s divisions Kelli Clarke was the stand-out with a 423kg Total as a light 63kg, that Total, 165.5kg Squat and 185kg Deadlift being Australian Records. Quality continued in the 52kg class, where Elizabeth Craven overcame a shoulder injury to post 367.5kg, barely short of her best and the 57kg class, where Alix Newtown also battled injury to produce a winning 377.5kg. Up in the heavier classes, at 84kg promising Junior Yani Zhao’s 455kg just held off Tahina Booth’s 447.5kg made off only four successful attempts, whilst Najat Khoury broke through with an Australian Record 465kg at Super-Heavyweight.
The Men’s classes showed unparalleled depth in many divisions. The 105s had quality all the way down, but hardy perennial Richard Hozjan was as usual out in front with 782.5kg. The 74kg class was also loaded, but the mercurial figure of Lucas Helmke overcame near-death experiences of one kind or another in the Bench Press and the Deadlift to push past the former recordholder Gary Young and one-time Junior great Karl DiFalco. More clearly dominant in their divisions were Cameron Mackenzie with an out-there 830kg at 120kg, JP Cauchi throwing in an unofficial World Record Deadlift of 280kg at 66kg and Tony Reinmuth up to 845kg at Super Heavy-Weight.
However the international Pacific Invitational saw some all-time greats unleashed. And who is greater than Jeza Uepa of Nauru, who held himself back to 415kg in the Squat and 920kg in the Total with the World Championships only 8 weeks away. Also revving up for the Worlds, Brett Gibbs of New Zealand sent a message to Moscow with a World Total Record of 783.5kg at 83kg. Australia’s moment of glory came with a World Record Deadlift from Amir Fazeli, 316kg at 83kg putting paid even to Brett. The big Bench Press showdown at 120kg+ didn’t materialize, Elnez Tofa went for broke with a 272.5kg (600lbs) opener and broke is what came up, with three misses. Matt Baller (USA) was a bit off his World Record pace with 250kg, but his Total of 855kg was a quality performance.
This Melbourne extravaganza was just the beginning of a big 2015 for Powerlifting Australia and the Fitness Expo. There are three more shows to go, Perth in September and Sydney and Brisbane in October. More big international fields and records are sure to follow.