Singapore's claim over three overall gold medals, two new Junior Asian records and one new Sub-Junior world record at the Asia-Oceania Raw Powerlifting Championships recently in Uzbekistan sent a commanding message of intent: we are emerging major players on the international powerlifting stage.
National Serviceman Clinton Lee was a particular standout, bringing home not only overall gold in the competitive U83kg Juniors category, but also sweeping up the coveted Best Overall Junior Lifter award and setting new Asian records for his squats (257.5kg) and for his combined total (677.5kg).
On top of national service, he juggles his own training while helping out as a coach at Elevate gym and formulating programmes for the improvement and progress of others.
Clinton Lee holding up the Singapore flag on the podium. Photo: Clinton Lee
While this is a gruelling schedule allowing him only 5 hours of sleep a night, he has shrugged it off, explaining that "it's all about how much commitment and effort you want to put in." His dedication has undoubtedly paid off given his stellar performance.
Christophe Ang also found success in the U74kg Juniors category, earning the overall gold medal with an unbeatable benchpress (150kg). This was despite sustaining a hamstring injury which had threatened to derail his campaign only two weeks prior to competition day.
The final overall gold and U120kg Sub-Junior world record in deadlift (305kg) belonged to the Singapore-based Danish teenager Dan Nobel. Alina Choo (U63kg Juniors), managing a remarkable third-placed benchpress (60kg), and Derrick Kim (U74kg Opens), who claimed overall bronze, rounded out the team.
Alina Choo (left) and President of Powerlifting Singapore, Tan Say Yong. Photo: Powerlifting Singapore
Although powerlifting as a sport in its own right is not highly realised, it is steadily gaining recognition as the premier strength sport: its three pillars of squat, benchpress and deadlift form the very backbone of strength and conditioning.
Powerlifting in some form or another is widely practiced by people of all ages and backgrounds, from the everyday gym-goer who simply wishes to maintain good health to the elite athlete of any sport.
Traditionally more popular with countries such as the USA, Kazakhstan and Russia, a number of recent local competitions, including ladies-only competitions, has raised powerlifting's profile in Singapore.
As for the reigning Asian U83kg Junior Champion who has now qualified for the 2016 World Championships in Texas, following a well-deserved break, Clinton Lee will be looking forward to proudly bearing Singapore's flag to even further frontiers.
This article was contributed by Melanie Bai.