Two Locals Guys Put Ballina On The Map

Two local guys David Neary and Ivan Smyth training out of ‘The Gym Ballina’ recently travelled to the World Powerlifting Games in Dusseldorf, Germany to represent Ireland in their chosen sport. As both guys are relatively new to the sport qualifying for the world games was a fantastic achievement in itself. It must be added that the guys did so in outstanding fashion, claiming National Titles and National and European Records in the same day at the qualifiers in Abs Gym, Dublin.

Arriving in Dusseldorf on Thursday 5th June one day prior to the opening of the games, Ivan Smyth and one of ‘The Gym’ owner Stephen Geddes packed their bags and made preparations for an early 6am weigh in at The Heinrich Heine University. Having endured a tough couple of weeks with a slight weight cut, the night before a competition of this stature can be a stressful and significant one. Significant because if too much weight is cut this can effect performance on the day as fatigue kicks in and likewise if too little is cut this can bump the athlete up to a higher weight category making the lifts more challenging. This cut must be calculated correctly as + or – 1lb can be a major difference in how much is achieved.

After a successful cut, Ivan weighed in precisely where he wanted to be and could now focus on the mammoth task ahead of him. His first event was the Squat. A raw test of strength the competitor rests a weighted bar on his/her shoulders and squats low to the ground, coming back to a standing position to finish the lift. Ivan’s class was very competitive, however he overcame all nerves and in exciting fashion claimed both the World Title and a new world Record Lift of 156Kgs. To stay calm after a victory like this was tough but task number 2 ‘The Deadlift’ was just over the horizon. For this event David Neary would fly in the following day and join his team mate where both would compete.

We collected Dave from the Airport early Saturday morning and the same rituals ensued as they had the previous Thursday. We also took time out to experience Dusseldorf and the heatwave they were having (this was the hottest weekend of the year). We arrived back to the hotel after a short trip to the sauna to track David’s weight and when we felt everything was on track headed to bed for the early 6am weigh in the following day.

After successfully weighing in, we all took a walk down to the main event area where two platforms lay still as if waiting for their next prey! After accessing the situation Dave and Ivan headed to the warm-up area with their coach to prepare for their lifts. As murphy’s law would come into play David and Ivan ended up being called at precisely the same time for their lifts. David approached the platform, sank deep and drove upwards however we looked on as the judges called for a ‘no-lift’. This was unfortunate as an incredible effort was put in. David however held his head high and immediately looked towards the National Deadlift competition in August where he vowed to set a new national record and more important to himself a new Personal Best. On the adjacent platform Ivan was fighting his own battle. After a ‘good lift’ was awarded, it became apparent that Ivan would now add the World Deadlift Title to his tally.

After presentations and celebrations it was time to pack up for our flight the following day. It had been a long weekend and everybody was looking forward to returning home. David was taking a separate route to meet his girlfriend for a week of relaxation in Bulgaria. After a short trip to Paris (ask Dave about that one☺) he finally arrived at his destination. Ivan and Stephen flew out of Dusseldorf and arrived back to Ireland early Tuesday morning.

Next stop for ‘The Gym’ Team is the National Deadlift Competition in August. If you or anybody else is interested in getting in to this sport contact ’The Gym’ on 096-24900 for details on how to get started.

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