By TONY WHITE
LIFTING weights around three and a half times your body weight takes not only strength but technique and dedication to training.
South Grafton powerlifter Tom MacDonald, 55, and two training partners, sawmiller Greg Denny, 40, and 20-year-old greenkeeper Mitch Hayes, recently won state titles at the NSW Powerlifting Association Championships at Myuna Bay, just south of Newcastle.
The titles were reward for the trio's hard work and dedication.
New Zealand-born MacDonald, raised in the Lake Taupo region and a former champion water-skier, is somewhat of a legend in powerlifting circles.
The 82.5kg 'ball of muscle', who works as a boner in the abattoirs, has held the national title in his division for the past 13 years setting records in the three disciplines ? bench, squat and dead lifts. He has also won the Oceania title three times and finished in the top four at the world titles in 1992. After playing rugby in New Zealand, MacDonald became interested in water skiing and won the Australian open bare foot jump in the 1980s. He also represented both NSW and Queensland in water-skiing.
Since turning to powerlifting in 1991, MacDonald has not only won numerous titles, but helped a string of locals improve their strength, fitness and pursue competitive powerlifting, training out of the South Grafton Pool and Gym.
"I work with a lot of footballers and anyone who wants to do some strength training," MacDonald said.
"Terry Power (South Grafton and Lower Clarence first grader) worked with me for several years and finished runner-up in the national titles."
At the state titles MacDonald lifted 210kg in squat, 110kg in bench and a 240kg dead lift. His records are 240kg squat, 125kg bench and 262kg dead lift. The later record equates to more than three times his body weight.
Denny, 75kg, only competes in bench due to a curvature of the spine problem, but lifted 130kg at the state titles.
Hayes, 82.5kg, won the junior title with a 155kg squat, 92kg bench and 200kg dead lift.
All three lifters qualified for the Australian titles held in Mildura but, due to costs, were unable to compete.
"Each week we probably lift around five to seven 'tons' in weight," MacDonald said.
"I train five days a week. I hurt my shoulder in a bike accident a few years back and that's pulled me back a bit in what I can lift.
"I try and play a bit of golf and outdoor bowls and I still do a bit of water-skiing in my spare time."
Weightlifting has been tainted with drugs controversy but MacDonald maintains theses days the sport is generally clean.
"I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs in my life, I don't believe in them," MacDonald said meaningfully.
"Fifteen years ago drugs were rife but over the past three or four years there's hardly been anyone caught. "I'm not saying some people don't us them (drugs) but generally the sport is pretty clean. They test you several times during the year and you get a three-year ban if caught the first time and life if there's a second. We don't make any money out of this. You'd be stupid to take drugs."