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Raising the bar: Halifax team wins medals at CAF powerlifting regionals

S1 Stephan Nael placed second in his weight category to come away with a silver medal.

Raising the bar: Halifax team wins medals at CAF powerlifting regionals

Cliquez ici pour le français: Relever la barre : L’équipe de Halifax remporte des médailles aux championnats régionaux de dynamophilie de la FAC

By Joanie Vetch,
Trident Staff

A powerlifting team from CFB Halifax brought home some hardware after competing at the first-ever Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Atlantic regional powerlifting championships, held October 17-19 at 14 Wing Greenwood.

The Halifax team joined participants from bases across the Atlantic region — 5th Canadian Division Support Base (5 CDSB) Gagetown, 9 Wing Gander, 12 Wing Shearwater, and 5 CDSB Detachment Aldershot, along with 14 Wing Greenwood, the competition hosts.

A powerlifting team from CFB Halifax brought home three medals at the CAF Atlantic regional powerlifting championship, held October 17-19 at 14 Wing Greenwood. From left: CPO2 Brent Williamson, MCpl Raouf Hakam, S1 Stephan Nael, SLt Nathan Sherwood, and PO2 Mitch Sheppard.

The five-person Halifax team was led by Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Nathan Sherwood as coach, along with Petty Officer Second Class (PO2) Mitch Sheppard, Chief Petty Officer Second Class (CPO2) Brent Williamson, Master Corporal (MCpl) Raouf Hakam, and Sailor First Class (S1) Stephan Nael.

“It was a great event,” said SLt Sherwood. “Everyone who was involved from Greenwood was fantastic. It was their first time holding an official meet and it all came together very smoothly; everything over the two days was really well-organized.”

Powerlifting involves three divisions — squat, bench press and deadlift. Competitors attempt three lifts in each category and the best score for each division is counted; the lifter who achieves the highest total combined weight wins their weight class.

While strength is clearly an important attribute, it’s the technical details that ultimately makes for the best results — and where coaching can help powerlifters improve and refine their lifting technique, said SLt Sherwood.

“The amount of weight being lifted really is secondary. It’s the technique that’s going to be the biggest thing to whether they can make the lift safely, versus not making the lift.”

Twice a week for over six weeks prior to the competition, the CFB Halifax team members got together to train at S-120, the Consolidated Seamanship Training Facility at Stadacona. The training clearly paid off as the team came back with one first place and two second place wins.

PO2 Sheppard placed first overall in his weight class, following a squat lift of 195 kilograms, a bench press of 142.5 kilograms and a deadlift of 220 kilograms.

Both CPO2 Williamson and S1 Nael placed second in their respective weight categories. CPO2 Williamson performed a squat of 220 kilograms, a 165-kilogram bench press and a deadlift of 265 kilograms, and S1 Nael did a 165-kilogram squat lift, a bench press of 120 kilograms and a personal best deadlift of 195 kilograms.

“For a first competition, you don’t know what to expect. You’ve learned all the commands and trained and trained but then actually going in it feels totally different,” said S1 Nael. “For me, I felt a lot of nerves at the start but as soon as I got the first lift done… the nerves were gone.”

It was MCpl Hakam’s first time at a powerlifting meet as well. Having started powerlifting training just over a year ago, his goal for the competition was to stay focused on his technique.

“Working out alone is one thing; you get comfortable with that, so then training together as a group is another level beyond that. Then the actual competition… that’s another thing again,” he said.  “At each level it feels a little bit different, but it’s good. You’re always just competing against yourself, that’s what you have to remember.”

MCpl Hakam was pleased with his results: a 142.5 kilogram squat, a 92.5 kilogram bench press and a 205-kilogram deadlift.

“I wanted to beat myself from last year, and I did that. I’ve seen a huge improvement,” he said.

Having just gotten into powerlifting recently, the camaraderie of powerlifting is one of the things that CPO2 Williamson loves about the sport: “All the competitors are cheering each other on. Everyone just wants to see each other do well and make their lifts.”

The sport is growing in popularity, especially for women, said SLt Sherwood, who is a member of the Nova Scotia Powerlifting Association, which hosts local and regional powerlifting competitions.

Now that powerlifting is part of the CAF national sports program, he hopes to see more people from CFB Halifax give it a try, and see more competitions in the future.

“Powerlifting is a great sport… usually it’s just you and the bar, so for us to get together as a group and to have an event to train for, it makes it all that much more fun,” he said.