WBOPPA 2023 Icebreaker Powerlifting Competition

Nukumai Wallace squatting 200kg. Photographer: Nathan Platt/Instagram

The annual Icebreaker Competition hosted by the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Powerlifting Association (WBOPPA) was held on the 11th of February which saw both seasoned and novice lifters approach the bar to show off what they can do.

The competition is comprised of three different lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift with competitors getting three attempts at each. Competitors of all ages and weight classes turned up to participate in both the men’s and women’s categories.

The competition is the first of the year, aimed at getting new lifters into the sport by providing an environment where they can experience a 3-lift meet for the first time and get used to performing on stage with the proper commands. The event also provides an opportunity for returning lifters to get back into the sport they love.

Lifter Em Hanrahan after a succesful lift at the 2022 New Zealand Powerlifting Federation Nationals in Palmerston North. Source: WAIBOP website

Nukumai Wallace, a doctor from Rotorua, made his competition debut at the event supported by friends and family. Wallace turned his attention to powerlifting recently, training under the guidance of veteran Tim Monigatti who competed on the international stage most recently at the Commonwealth Championships in November last year.

“Training had gone well leading into the competition,” says Wallace, adding that working with an experienced coach was helpful with both the physical aspect of the event as well as how to approach the day. “Coach gave a thorough rundown of the timing of the day, what to expect, and how to approach warming up.”

Wallace says he felt a definite nervousness in the air, but drily states that they were “probably mostly mine.”

He competed in the Men’s under 83kg category, missing the upper limit on the weight class by 100g which he was “a little” frustrated with but is certain it won’t be an issue next time.

Nick Collins, president of WBOPPA, was pleased with the showing by all lifters on the day saying “the standards of lifting were high for a novice comp.” He also indicated that the sport is growing with a record number of lifters this year, particularly in the sub-junior bracket including those younger than 18 years old.

While the competitors are there to outdo one another the camaraderie between lifters was evident with everyone urging each other on, yelling encouragement when an attempt was particularly tough.

Wallace deadlifting at the 2023 Waikato Bay of Plenty Icebreaker competition in Hamilton. Photographer: Nathan Platt/Instagram

Nukumai was supported on the day by his fiancée, daughter, and several friends.

“Having support from friends and whanau was invaluable, I really wanted to do well and have a successful lifting day to make their travels worth it,” says Wallace.

His total for the day came in at an impressive 577.5kg across the three lifts with a 200kg squat, 137.5kg bench press, and 240kg deadlift.

Wallace has his eyes on the next event, the 3-Lift and Bench Only regionals competition on April 1st and 2nd at the Claudelands show grounds in Hamilton, with the goal of qualifying for Nationals in September.

He said that the only downside of the day was that his 2-year-old son and gym training partner was out with a cold and couldn’t make it.

“Squatting wasn’t the same without him.”

For more information about the WAIBOPPA and all things lifting, check out their website.