Meet Rory Lynch – the first of our ‘guest writers’ in an ongoing Fitness Journal series. Rory’s passion for the sport of power lifting, and for the Olympic Games, makes for compelling reading.
Studying Engineering at the University of Auckland, the Hamilton athlete is also a raw powerlifter, president of the University Powerlifting Club and a self confessed ‘complete geek’ who likes hip-hop and Microsoft Excel.
Below we find out a little more about the human powerhouse, so dubbed for his relentless thirst for improvement and his ability to life massive weights.
Career path? I’m just finishing my degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Auckland. I’m interested in sports science, and am currently working at a sports technology start-up, combining my engineering background with my interest in sports science.
How and why you got involved with power lifting? I started casually going to the gym (without really knowing what I was doing) to help get better at martial arts. After a couple of years, I met a group of people (who are now some of my close friends) who encouraged me to compete. I was bitten by the iron bug as soon as I set foot on the platform.
What are the most common misconceptions about the sport? A lot of people get us mixed up with weightlifting. There are certainly superficial similarities, but the disciplines are totally different. Powerlifting consists of the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
What do you enjoy most about it? Most of me wants to say the people; I’ve met most of my closest friends through powerlifting, and the camaraderie is amazing. There’s still a small corner of me reminding me what it feels like to be on the platform though, so I’m going to say that too.
What is the greatest challenge of the sport for you personally? Physically, I struggle to improve my squat. In terms of mindset, the greatest challenge is definitely modulating mental intensity. We track every possible variable, but it can still be hard to relax when it’s time to relax, and as a result it can be hard to maintain focus when it’s time to focus. I’m getting better at it.
Achievements within the sport? I’m still new to powerlifting and haven’t achieved much yet. The thing I’m most proud of is my second place finish at the recent Auckland Powerlifting Championships. I felt like I was a bit of an underdog going into it, so walking away with a silver medal and a regional record for bench press felt like it validated all the hard work.
Future goals? I want to go to the Classic IPF World Championships next year and am aiming for a top half of field finish, and beyond that it’s hard to know. Powerlifting is growing so rapidly that it’s hard to tell what the sport might look like even five years from now. I enjoy programming and coaching, and I’d love to be able to have some kind of future there.
What needs to happen to achieve your goals? To get to IPF worlds I need to put together the best performance I’m capable of at the upcoming New Zealand national championships, even getting selected for the team is going to be a big deal for me.
List five things you wish ‘non power lifters’ knew or recognised about the sport?
• The stereotypical powerlifter is an over-weight, bearded and possibly steroid using man. The truth is that most powerlifters are just regular looking people, are drug-tested, and nearly half are women.
• It takes a lot more than raw strength to win a powerlifting meet (though that certainly helps). You need the mindset, you need the right training, the practice, the handler (on-the-day coach), you need to keep yourself going through a 4+ hour meet… There’s strategy and there’s psychology. Just being strong only gets you half-way there.
• You need a team. Even though there’s only one person on the platform, there’s plenty that goes on behind the scenes, from planning months in advance right down to the final pep talks before you step onto the platform.
• Powerlifters are so friendly. I’ve seen direct competitors helping each other with equipment just minutes before going head to head on the platform, and as soon as the meet is over everyone heads off to eat together. Also, the biggest, scariest looking people are usually the nicest.
• No-one cares what you lift when you’re a novice, people remember their own first meet and respect you for showing up. If you’re thinking about getting into powerlifting, no matter how old/young/tall/short you are, I couldn’t encourage you enough.