The powerlifting event kicks off at the Invictus Games 2022 on April 21, with 11 members of Team Australia taking to the bench.
CAPTION: Team Australia is cheered on by family and friends during the swimming events held at the Zwembad het Hofbad pool in The Hague, Netherlands. Story by Lucy Redford-Hunt. Photo by Sergeant Oliver Carter.
Powerlifting tests a competitor’s upper body strength and is won by the competitor who successfully lifts the heaviest weight. Competitors are each given three attempts to bench press the bar.
There are three weight categories: lightweight (IP1 women/IP4 men), midweight (IP2 women/IP5 men) and heavyweight (IP3 women/IP6 men).
In the morning session, Chris Reck will be the first of the Australians to compete, contesting the IP4 category against a pool of 11 competitors.
Emilea Mysko and Taryn Barbara will lift in the women’s lightweight class, which will have 42 competitors, while Vanessa Broughill and Emma Murfet will be up next in the women’s lightweight category.
Peter Brown, Matt Model and Ashley Muir will then compete in the men’s midweight category.
One of those competing is Team Australia co-captain Corporal Sarah Petchell, who claimed the gold medal in the women’s heavyweight IP3 category at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.
Although she would love to add another medal to her collection, her attention on the day will be helping her teammates throughout the competition.
“This year, I’ll set out to do my best, get my three lifts done – and done well – but most of all I will go into this thinking, ‘How can I help others? How can I help fellow lifters?’,” Corporal Petchell said.
“A medal is great, but the impact you can make on people and the friendships are more meaningful.”
Corporal Petchell will help the lightweight and middleweight groups prior to her own event.
“Competitors will have weigh-in and kit check two hours before the lifting starts, and that’s when the nerves start to build,” Corporal Petchell said.
“You’re so close and just have to stick to your warm-up plan – secure a bench to warm up on, and go through your process of mental and physical preparation.
“You just want to give 100 per cent and leave it all on the competition floor.
“Powerlifting is a sport of grind and, as with some of life’s challenges, you have to return to the bar, time after time, and lift and push and work hard.
“The team is going to have an excellent time representing their country again, this time in the sporting arena.
“My hope is they take the time to take it all in and enjoy the fruits of their long, long efforts.”
Corporal Petchell said the team was not focused on winning medals, but letting the power of sport and competition help their individual rehabilitation and mental health, and build confidence to face difficult challenges.
“Team Australia will be a team to contend with at the games and in powerlifting. I know everyone is pushing their limits and pushing towards a good performance on the platform. I am already proud of them,” Corporal Petchell said.
Damien Irish and Gabriel Ramon will compete in the final event of the day, the men’s heavyweight category.
In the wheelchair basketball, Team Australia will take on host nation, Netherlands, in the first pool match at the Invictus Games Stadium. The eight teams competing are divided into Pool A and Pool B for the round-robin format.
In their second match, Team Australia will be up against the UK, then they will take on Canada for the final match of the day.
Despite a difficult lead-up to the games, Stephen French said he was focussing on the positives.
“We’ve only had three training sessions as a team over two years,” French said.
“We’re just going to get up and have fun with it. And that’s basically what it’s all about realistically – just improving your skills and improving your health.”
The Aussie side consists of: Mark Armstrong, Sergeant Shane Bramley, Matt Brown, Peter Walter Brown, Trent Forbes, Stephen French, Braedon Griffiths, Steve James, Peter Miller, Emilea Mysko, Chris O‘Brien, Sarah Petchell, Lenny Redrose, James Saville, Shannon Stewart and Joel Vanderzwan.