I began lifting weights at the age of 17 with my older brother Liam in 2012. He had been training for powerlifting for a couple of years by that point and so he taught me the basics of how to train for strength and helped push me to get stronger. Initially, I didn’t see powerlifting as something I would pursue because I was already training for Rugby. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I decided to start taking powerlifting seriously because I realised I enjoyed training in the gym more than I liked being on the field on Saturday’s and it was quite apparent by that point that I had a knack for it. So I found a coach, joined a Powerlifting gym and started my journey in Powerlifting.
That year I competed at my first National’s, placing 2nd in my weight class and earning my first National medal. Later the same year, I was chosen to represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships placing third overall. Standing on the podium holding the New Zealand flag was a feeling like no other and it was then that I decided I wanted to again represent New Zealand at the World Championships in Calgary in 2 years time.
That decision meant two things. One; I had to get a lot stronger. And two; I had to claim the National title next year.
With a great deal of hard work and discipline, I was able to achieve both of these goals. Fast forwarding to June last year, I was selected to represent New Zealand to compete at the Powerlifting World Championships held in Calgary, Canada.
The competition was immense, the pressure unbelievable. The distance between 3rd place and 16th place was such a tiny margin that every kg left on the platform meant a placing slipped away. It was a hardfought competition from start to finish and one I am proud to have been a part of.
My performance consisted of a 280kg squat, a 167.5kg bench and a 310kg deadlift. I earned 9th in the squat, 11th in the bench press and 4th in the deadlift for an overall placing of 10th in the world in the junior u120kg weight class division.
One of the things I have come away with from this experience and the build up to it over the past 3 years is that my dad’s euphemisms are often frustratingly true. One of his favourites when we were kids was ‘it’s just skin, it grows back’ and to me, this has always meant being resilient.
To reach an elite level in any sport, you’ve got to be resilient. Things don’t always go your way, there are setbacks big and small and sometimes the only thing you can do is take a deep breath, brush the dust off, pick yourself back up and keep going.
My journey to World Championships was one filled with ups and downs, what I have come away with though is an unforgettable experience I won’t forget and one I see as a step in the right direction that I can build on as I work toward once again representing New Zealand at a World Championships and hopefully one day standing upon the podium holding the flag on the biggest stage of all.
By Callum Pumfleet