Participants test their mettle in bench-press challenge
Blood and iron.
Blood and iron.
These two things were in ample supply for anyone who happened to make their way to the IronWorks Gym sports courts here June 8, 2013, as 36 participants took part in the 2013 Summer Slam Bench- Press Challenge.
Blood pumped rapidly through muscle as sinew fought against gravity and metal as participants fought to see who was the strongest at the competition. Participants were split into a women’s division with 132 and 148 pound weight classes and a men’s division with weight classes consisting of 132, 148, 165, 181, 198, 220, 242, 275 and super heavyweight classes. Kotono Ikagawai, overall female winner, benched 143 pounds at a body weight of 126.2 pounds.
Syuji Gotoh, overall male winner, successfully benched 616 pounds at a weight of 252 pounds.
All challengers were welcome to take part in the meet.
The number of challengers, some who travelled great distances from across Japan, increased from previous years and was a welcome sight to long-time bench-press challenge participants.
“We’ve had the largest turnout ever for this,” said Abe Roman, bench press challenge judge and powerlifting supporter. “I’m actually thrilled that our program, which used to get 12 people, 15 people, is now drawing people from as far away as Tokyo, Fukuoka, Kyogo.”
Though the tangible and quantifiable aspect of the benchpress challenge is bench pressing, only a few active-duty personnel were present.
“It crosses cultural lines, all to share a common interest where many of our Japanese friends are competing with us,” said Roman. “It just makes your time (here) that much more enjoyable.”
While seeing the multicultural effects the bench-press challenge can have on bringing people together, one group who was not well represented were active-duty personnel.
“I’d like to see more Marines participate,” said Roman. “Ultimately, this program is for Marines. I’d like to see more of them come out and take advantage of it.”
Though servicemembers were in short supply, those present seemed pleased with where they placed in the contest and grateful for the chance to compete, not just against other lifters but, more importantly, themselves.
“The last time I competed in a bench-press competition was about nine years ago,” said Henry Pollard, bench-press challenge participant and 242 pound firstplace winner, who successfully bench pressed 335.5 pounds.
Pollard also spoke of how the constant pace of changing duty stations coupled with a debilitating neck surgery he suffered years ago prevented him from competing until now.
“I decided as I’m getting closer to that golden age I’d go ahead and see if I could rekindle some of that strength I used to have.”
Programs such as the benchpress competition are in place primarily for active-duty personnel but some may be dissuaded from sacrificing a weekend to test their mettle.
“If you’re in there working (out), you might as well come out, compete, get yourself a medal, a shirt and have a little fun with all the big guys,” said Pollard.
The chance to test one’s limits and be amongst fellow weightlifters is something many wish they had the chance to
do, but don’t.
Competitions such as this allow men and women to showcase their training, desire and passion, embodying the theme of blood and iron.
Blood and iron.