Powerlifting Vancouver, Canada
He isn't very comfortable with heights but Ethan Foote's choice of sport is taking him to giddy altitudes in the world arena.
The 23-year-old from Hastings has returned from Canada with four gold medals at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship in Vancouver.
Foote claimed the top perch on the podium in the squat, bench, deadlift disciplines on Friday, December 4, before rounding off his trip with the overall title in the 120kg-plus division to become the Commonwealth junior champion for the second time.
But the biggest buzz came with becoming a two-time world record holder when the Rebel Sports Hastings storeman dethroned Cameron McKenzie, of Australia.
"It's a pretty good feeling. It's always really good to beat an Aussie," says Foote from his Hastings Fitness Centre gym soon after returning home following a short holiday this week.
"To do it on an international stage to reclaim the world record is one of the best things you can do in my sport."
The reigning champion since 2013 (the champs is held every two years), it bugged Foote to have lost his grip of 330kg in the "classic raw" category that is devoid of lifting accessories such as knee wraps, squat and bench suits. A Lithuanian powerlifter eclipsed his lift by 5kg late last year but in September McKenzie claimed the bragging rights with a deadlift of 341kg.
In Vancouver, Foote didn't waiver mentally about regaining his crown and never let any self-doubt weigh him down.
"I trained too hard not to get it so all that hard work paid off in the end."
McKenzie didn't travel to Vancouver but had communicated with Foote via social media.
"I told him, 'If you don't show up someone else will take your world record'.
"I think he knew I was going to beat him," says Foote, who next year graduates to the Open male class to measure up with the bigger boys.
The bloke, who weighs 130kg and stands at 1.95m, will need to lift up to 375kg but it's nothing he believes he can't attain with a little more muscle mass and in tweaking his lifting technique.
"It's a big ask but I'm pretty confident I'll get it in the next 18 months."
As far as Foote's concerned he's got to train harder and smarter without deviating from the intensity.
"It's not a sprint, it's a marathon."
Changing his diet and embracing a training regime that is more attuned to his requirements are on the agenda.
"I'll need more protein, more carbohydrates and more fats to fuel my body," says the former St John's College pupil.
His coach, Warren Trent, who lives and owns Powerhouse Gym in Wellington, was "rapt" although he didn't travel to the champs in Vancouver.
While the World Championship is in Texas, United States, this time next year, Foote intends going to the Oceania Championship in Samoa.
"I can break world records either at Texas or Samoa," he says, looking forward to accompanying his gym and clubmates who also plan to go to Samoa for a tropical experience.
His discipline of hanging out in the hotel room in Vancouver ended after his performance with downtown celebrations.
"I saw a bit of scenery and did some shopping."
The rotating restaurant beckoned, where he dined at about 170m high with 360-degree panoramic views.
"You have one [rotation] every 45 minutes so it's beautiful," he says, feeling a little queasy about defying gravity but content with finishing his meal.