Dublin muscle men ready to repeat heroics
Two years ago in Vienna, the Irish powerlifting team created a sensation when they beat mighty Iceland for the world team title.
"It was our best achievement ever. The Viking nations are always strong in power events, and for a small team like Ireland to beat them was incredible," says David Smith, a member of the team.
After losing out last term, the team heading for this year's World Championships in Bath, England hopes to repeat that famous victory.
Among them are four members of the Hercules club in Dublin's Lurgan Street.
David Smith and Ben Hartigan will both compete in the over-50 class -- David at 100kg and Ben at 90kg. Billy Kidd goes in the over-55 class at 82.5kg, while Gerry Smith is aiming for a third consecutive world title in the 75kg under-23 junior class.
The quartet have an impressive number of titles and records.
Hartigan was the first man in Ireland to bench press 200kg. David Smith set a world record for the squat and bench, while Gerry has junior records for squat, deadlift and overall total.
Powerlifting competitions consist of the squat, bench press and dead lift disciplines. With only three attempts allowed, tactics are vital.
"You have to make sure to get one good lift in. Then you can play around a bit," says Ben Hartigan.
For teams, the best six lifters across the ages are selected.
Training is rigourous. "We train four times a week. You can continue training for powerlifting until you're a good age. It keeps us all very fit," says David Smith.
His son Gerry only took up the sport five years ago: "I was training in another gym but then decided I would start competing, along with my dad."
Powerlifting has always had an open policy -- anyone who wants to give it a go is welcome at the Hercules and other clubs around the country.
"We held a Leinster Championships a few weeks ago and there were lots of new lads," continued Gerry.
"You see someone come in one week and they bench press 100kg. They start training and then they can lift 105kg and better.
"You get a great buzz from seeing their progress."
Irish team: Sean Cregan M45 (60kg), Fiton St Gym Cork; Angela Mc Namara Open (67.5kg), Limerick; Ruairi McCann Junior (67.5kg) Meath; Gerard Smith Junior (75Kg)Hercules Dublin; Meelis Susi Open (75kg) Galway City Gym; Darren Quinn Junior (82.5kg) Patrick's Well Limerick; Graeme Quirk Open (82.5kg) Limerick; William Kid M55 (82.5kg) Hercules Dublin; Ian Bedford Junior (90kg) Limerick; Shane Brodie Open (90kg) Limerick; Ben Hartigan M50 (90kg) Hercules Dublin; David Smith M50 (100kg) Hercules Dublin; Erikas Jesipovicius Open (110kg) Meath; Nerjuis Sevkas Open (125kg) Meath; Thomas Sutras Open (90kg) Meath.