- Title: Powerlifting grows in popularity in Lebanon
- Date: 31st July 2017
- Summary: AUDIENCE WATCHING THE COMPETITION
- Embargoed: 14th August 2017 16:21
- Keywords: Lebanese powerlifting championship Powerlifting sport weighlifting competition Lebanese Federation of Bodybuilding and Powerlifting
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Sport,Weightlifting
- Reuters ID: LVA0056S1Q5P1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A growing number of athletes are taking part in powerlifting competitions in Lebanon, forming a community of both men and women who are passionate about lifting weights.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that sees competitors attempt to lift as much weight as possible in three categories: squat, bench press and deadlift.
Speaking at this year's Lebanese Powerlifting Championship, the president of the Lebanese Federation of Bodybuilding and Powerlifting Hassanen Moukalled, said the sport has been practised in Lebanon for around 30 years.
But only in the last five years has the sport seen a boom in popularity with a growing number of athletes taking part in regional and national competitions.
"In recent times, in the past five years, the number of players has multiplied and this sport has spread extensively. Women started participating seven years ago, and thank God, the Lebanese team was able to have a male team and a female team in both the youth and general categories," said Moukalled, a former powerlifter himself.
Some 150 athletes participated in this year's two-day national championship.
One powerlifter Jeffrey Ayoub has been practising the sport for over two years and has won several gold medals in previous competitions.
He said the sport was gaining popularity as it produced great fitness results.
"Those who start participating in this sport can't stop. It integrates your body and you will feel bad on the day that you don't exercise, you can sometimes release stress when performing a deadlift or squat. So I will definitely keep on training, and will do my best to continue competing but I also have my career and work. I wish I would have a career in this sport," he said.
Female powerlifters also expressed their passion for the sport which had improved their fitness, confidence and strength, despite being perceived by some as a male sport.
"I really encourage every girl to practice because for example, I can change the water gallon bottles alone at home. It gives women confidence, strength and makes your body look nicer. It changes everything for the better," said Elissar Madi, a pharmacist and sports instructor.
"All my friends encourage me. This motivates me, and the girls who come tell me 'Bravo, you lift that much' also motivates me to lift for that, they see they can lift as much as I do, become strong and work on themselves," added Grace Kassab.
Kassab, a photo editor at local newspaper The Daily Star, broke Lebanese records in this year's championship, squatting 125 kg and benchpressing 77.5 kg.
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