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Eastern Shore gym sets the bar high

TASMANIA is lifting well above its weight when it comes to powerlifting, with recently returned athletes bringing home medals and records from the Asia Pacific Championships.

Head coach and owner at Raw Strength Tasmania Matthew McKay took a team of seven to the championships held in Hong Kong from 13 to 15 December, with the Eastern Shore gym setting the bar for the rest of the world.

The team won three gold medals and two silver medals, as well as set two world records, five Oceania region records and two Australian records in the masters, juniors and open categories.

“All of them went really well, especially after flying eight hours to Hong Kong, eating food you’re not used to, and competing in the heat – it was really impressive from everyone,” Mr McKay said.

“They’ve been putting in countless hours in training.

“Each of them will do five to 10 hours training depending on how hard that day is, but that doesn’t include the diet, the rolling and stretching at home, the swimming and all the stuff they do outside of that – it’s as much as a part-time job.”

Mr McKay said Bryan McMaster and Joanne Paine, who competed in the masters category, were standouts.

“Jo started about two years ago and she’s gone from being mildly competitive at a local gym to the best in Australia, which is awesome and her confidence has risen astronomically,” he said.

“Bryan is 80 and he’s out-lifting pretty much everyone – he doesn’t look older than 60.”

Mr McMaster competed in the 80-plus division deadlift and set two world records and finished first.

“I was a runner, but I have no cartilage in my left ankle now, so I took up powerlifting and have been doing that for two years now,” Mr McMaster said.

“I like to do physical things – I have to do something physical for my wellbeing because my wellbeing is my health and fitness.”

Mr McMaster encouraged anyone getting on in years to take up weightlifting as it helped increase bone density.

“With my age, the tide starts to turn and you start to get weak, but you try to rest that decline by continuing to lift, and if you can maintain your current strength level then that’s progress,” Mr McMaster said.

Ms Paine finished first in her division in the bench press, breaking her Australian record by 500 grams and lifting 88 kilograms.

“I was so stoked, especially since I was sick all year and only trained for probably four months,” she said.

“The people at the gym are like another family, they support you 100 per cent and they’re behind you even if you muck up, they just encourage you to lift more – I love it.”

Ms Paine said her goal was to beat the bench press world record of 90 kilograms.

Raw Strength Tasmania is also about to open the doors to its new centre in Clarendon Vale in conjunction with the Clarendon Vale Neighbourhood Centre.

Mr McKay said he wanted the new centre to act as a not-for-profit training centre for vulnerable people.

Caption: Clockwise from back left, Melitta Wedd, Jack Adams, Julian Yes, Joanne Paine, Raw Strength Tasmania head coach Matthew McKay and Bryan McMaster. Absent, Ian Tann.