Beyond Physical Strength: The Mind and Heart of Powerlifting at the World Sub-Junior & Junior Championships

The following photo is courtesy of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

Cluj-Napoca, Romania – At first, “Powerlifting” might bring to mind images of bodybuilders and the act of lifting weights. However, there’s much more to this sport than meets the eye. It’s a discipline where strength, diversity, and the interplay of both mind and body take center stage. The sport is built on the foundation of three key exercises: squat, bench press, and deadlift and where powerlifting requires maximum focus, precision and power. 

The UTS team had the remarkable opportunity to witness the prowess of the world’s top youth powerlifters at the World Sub-Junior & Junior Championships held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. From August 24th to September 3rd, the Grand Italia Hotel provided an extraordinary platform for these young athletes to shine. With 650 participants aged 14-23 joining from all continents, this championship organised by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and dedicated local Organising Committee, embodied the very spirit of powerlifting.

Left to right: Michael Greiner (Project Coordinator, UTS), Julia Govinden (CEO, UTS), Gaston Parage (President, IPF).

Between the diversity of aspiring powerlifters, a common thread emerged: the undeniable role of mental focus and determination. Engaging in conversations with these young athletes, it was clear that concentration and tenacity were pivotal factors in their performance indicating that powerlifting is not only a demonstration of physical strength. With every lift, these athletes painted a vibrant picture of passion, persistence, and the pursuit of excellence, pushing themselves beyond their own limits. Their dedication proved nothing short of inspiring.

The following photo is courtesy of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

The championships saw many new world records setting the bar higher than ever before. UTS witnessed the phenomenal lift by Singaporean athlete Chloe Tang who lifted a record Deadlift of 173kg and total of 408kg at 57kg class. There were tears of joy, pride and support from around the room where the impossible became possible. 

The IPF boasts a dedicated Youth Commission, a body that represents the interests and aspirations of the youth involved in powerlifting. One member of this commission is Philippe Parage, 22, the son of IPF’s President Mr. Gaston Parage and a powerlifter in his own right. Philippe was present at the Championships in Romania and competed in the Junior equipped competition within his weight category, taking home two bronze medals for his remarkable performances in the squat and deadlift categories.

Philippe Parage at the World Sub-Junior & Junior Championships in Romania.
The following photo is courtesy of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

Defying preconceptions, the championship saw an equal representation of male and female athletes showcasing the sport’s appeal and inclusivity. As the President of the International Powerlifting Federation Mr. Gaston Parage said: “This sport is not confined to a specific demographic or ability; it’s truly for everyone, a sport for all and all are welcomed here.” The IPF truly recognises the opportunity of the sport to bring everyone together and unite through sports, building bonds through the shared love of Powerlifting.  

UTS CEO Julia Govinden said: “To witness the mental and physical strength of these young athletes is really astounding. We see how the federation focuses on inclusion and how the role of sport can influence core values and certainly the Olympic values are an integral element to this sport culture.”

UTS was able to speak with many athletes and officials learning about how the federation operates to deliver a full annual calendar of events and the attention to developing the federation by learning what works and where to improve.

Left to right: Gaston Parage (President, IPF), Julia Govinden (CEO, UTS), Emanuel Scheiber (General Manager, IPF).

Earlier in the year the sport was showcased at the Special Olympics World Games 2023, where the athletes communicated their joy and motivation to the audience in a truly emotional moment. The IPF’s efforts extend even further, reaching Paralympic athletes and those with unique abilities, nurturing an environment where blind athletes can also participate. Both President Parage and Emanuel Scheiber, General Manager of the IPF, confirmed the Federation’s commitment to an all-inclusive sport, where athletes, irrespective of disabilities, compete together. 

United Through Sports is excited to continue collaboration with the International Powerlifting Federation and working closely towards an exciting development for 2024. The partnership focuses on uniting youth and athletes from diverse backgrounds using Powerlifting as a platform to send a positive message to the world: there is room for everyone to thrive. 

The following photo is courtesy of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).

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