News: Participants fight against steel, iron
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - A primal grunt echoes for all to hear as flesh and bone battle against iron to see which is stronger. The tremendous strain of gravity and the trembling pain of tendons and tissue serve as constant reminders of what awaits a lifter should they fail to push the weight back up. For most, this might seem like insanity, but for those who took part in the 2012 open bench press competition at the IronWorks Gym sports courts here Jan. 21, it is a way of life.
Twenty two participants took part in the competition. Classes were divided by gender and subsequently divided into weight classes.
The overall female winner was Hiroko Yanai in the 114 pound weight class with a bench press of 94 pounds. The overall male winner was Abe Roman with a bench press of 374 pounds.
Both winners were presented with a hat and a shirt for their efforts. All lifters were awarded a medal. The awards were not important to many of these men and women who have a passion for this sport.
“It’s not about winning or losing,” said Roman. “It’s the idea that people are focused on the same types of goals. It’s neat to meet people and see them grow.”
Roman was not only a participant in the bench press competition, but also a coach to some of the other lifters.
“I coach other people, so it’s good to see them progress and see them compete,” said Roman.
One trait all the participants seemed to have was consistency. Many of the participants who competed in this year’s competition were also at the 2011 Summer Slam Bench Press Competition. Consistency is what allows these lifters to make the improvements they need to stay competitive and active, said Roman.
“[Consistency] is the key, year after year” said Roman. “I’ve been at this for 30 years. I’m not getting any stronger, but if you come to the gym, lead a healthy lifestyle, have good nutrition, attitude and work ethic, you can accomplish anything. But the key is consistency; day in, day out.”
For Yanai, consistency was also a trait she kept when she first started.
“I started lifting a year ago,” Yanai said through an interpreter. “It took a lot of practice.”
The opportunity to show that women can compete and still be feminine was something that appealed to Yanai.
“Women can compete without becoming too muscular,” said Yanai.
The competition itself is what feeds many of the participants to train harder by giving them a place to compete in that particular niche of weight training.
“I strive to give my best for every competition, because it motivates me,” said Yanai.
The number of lifters who participated in the competition may seem low to some, but for this type of event, turnout actually exceeded expectations.
“Our biggest competition last year had around 20,” said Thomas F. Durning, IronWorks Gym athletic director. “We matched our goal last year. We’re happy with that.”
The Japanese nationals and station residents who compete against and alongside each other should serve as a reminder to anyone that the sport of powerlifting or bodybuilding is something which transcends nationalities.
“We enjoy it when Japanese nationals can come aboard the station and compete against the residents, because it’s a special occasion for them. It allows them the opportunity to compete in athletic events,” said Durning.
IronWorks is scheduled to follow the bench press competition with a strong man competition in the spring, the 2012 Summer Slam bench press challenge in the summer and the Far East powerlifting competition in September.