On January 22, Mike Smith of Trainstation Te Awamutu hosted the inaugural NZE (New Zealand Equipped) meeting under the GPC federation.
Equipped powerlifting, a growing sport worldwide, is an advancement of regular unequipped powerlifting where specially designed lifting suits enable the lifter to lift heavier.
Equipped lifters normally are able to compete in their own category at regular events but this was the first equipped-only meeting of its scale held in New Zealand for a long time.
The prep began for a dedicated group of 15 nine weeks ago, with weekly Sunday sessions at the nationally known powerhouse gym Trainstation.
Lifters from Tauranga, Auckland, New Plymouth and of course local attended on a regular basis with the aim of assisting the take-off of the sport in New Zealand and breaking records.
Local and world bench press record holder Paula Johnstone wasted no time in taking national records in squat, bench and deadlift with an unofficial world bench press record of 125kg.
Phil Martin, from Te Awamutu, representing local business and sponsor Native Timber Joinery and coached by Mike, took top honours in his first show.
Phil was one of the best performers on the day, taking a whopping 700kg total, the overall winner and several national records which more experienced lifters would aspire to. He is one to watch - unlimited potential is partnered with a relentless work ethic.
The overall female winner went to seasoned Auckland lifter of the Caged Barbell Club Ange Wilkinson, with Paula close behind as runner-up.
Corey Williams, also of Auckland, had the biggest bench of the day at 250kg.
Trainstation member Jono Pull, another with vast experience competing in the heavyweights, blew away previous bests with a 315kg squat.
Ross McDougall had a massive 220kg bench and claimed second overall bench.
Other members of team Trainstation who took personal bests were Dean Williams, a fast-rising athlete also taking New Zealand records, and promoter/coach Mike, who made a return to the platform after surgery on his bicep from a deadlift world record attempt in April.
Mike wasted no time getting back to near his best, setting and breaking the national record on his four attempts, finishing on a sought-after triple bodyweight of 261kg and the heaviest contest deadlift of the day.
But the highlight of the day for many, the reason why the crowd was so big, was to witness New Zealand's heaviest all-time deadlift by ex-UK Strongman Sean Logan, who now resides in Te Awamutu.
Sean opened on a seemingly easy 400kg to set the crowd alight and then moved to the all-time attempt of 430kg and smashed it. The crowd erupted for this historic moment for Sean, New Zealand Powerlifting, Strongman and Te Awamutu.
"It's hard to actually put into context what we witnessed and on home turf. It's a lift that no one has seen before and I'm betting they won't for a long time yet," says Mike.
He says they're very proud to bring this to Te Awamutu.
NZE was the first of a major series of national events for Trainstation, with the second annual TAslay powerlifting event on March 26 and the WFF bodybuilding Rosetown Posedown in August.
Trainstation would like to thank sponsors Carltons Concrete, NT Joinery, Devil's Breath and Sportsfuel.