MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
The sound of heavy metal thundered throughout the gym as athletes forced their bodies to their limits during the Open Bench Press Competition, inside the IronWorks Gym Sports Court here, Jan. 19, 2013.
“This is a great opportunity for people who like to bench press,” said Abe Roman, bench press competition judge. “It’s a popular exercise and a great opportunity to be able to come out and showcase people’s strength.”
While each individual’s efforts were reflected in their total amount of weight lifted during the event, the benefits of such a competition carry on through a person’s physical and mental state.
“Strength means self-confidence, self-confidence breeds success,” said Roman. “Why do people want to improve at anything? Again, self-confidence breeds success. Yes, there is pain, but at the end of the day, there is a goal.”
A total of 23 servicemembers, dependents and Japanese nationals participated in the event.
The athletes were broken up into their respective weight classes and were judged by the total amount of weight they were able to lift in three attempts.
The overall male winner of the contest was Atsuo Kozuki, who totaled 640 kilograms, 1,408 pounds, with his three lifts.
Being stationed in Japan and having open competitions such as this provides an opportunity for Japanese nationals to participate, which strengthens the bond between the U.S. and Japan.
“(My trainer and I) came from Tokyo, and we just happen to know Mister Abe Roman from our Japanese national championship,” said Atsuo. “It was through him that I found out about being able to participate in the events on base, which is a very rare opportunity for a Japanese civilian to visit the base.”
Atsuo also said he looked forward to being able to bring more members from his gym to the station, in the hopes of having more fun and enjoyable times with servicemembers.
“You don’t have to be strong to participate in these events, it’s just for the fun,” said Atsuo.
Including this event, SemperFit hosts two bench press competitions annually, as well as a powerlifting contest.