POWER: Champion Wairarapa powerlifter Vincent Capes has qualified to compete as a junior weightlifter at the 2016 New Zealand Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Auckland on October 14 – 16. Photo/41° Weightlifting Club

by Nathan Crombie

VINCENT Capes – globally competitive national champion powerlifter – has blitzed a fistful of regional, national and world class fields since taking up the sport barely 18 months ago. Now the 17-year-old Rathkeale College senior is eyeing competitive weightlifting as his next arena to conquer.
Capes is competing this weekend in Auckland as a junior weightlifter, after representing New Zealand as a powerlifter at the Commonwealth Powerlifting Federation Championships in Canada in December last year, at the Oceania Powerlifting Federation champs, and alongside classmate and fellow sub-junior lifter Harrison Pollard at the International Powerlifting Federation RAW/Classic World Powerlifting Championships in Killeen, Texas, in June.
Capes, who grew up on a Wairarapa farm, had initially trained in discus, hammer and javelin under John Quinn, a Masterton athletics coach for High Performance Sport NZ.
He took a bronze in javelin at the North Island Secondary Schools Championships, Capes said, before a knee injury led him to Wai Weight Private Gym in Masterton for recovery training and a switch of pursuits.
World champion powerlifter Brett Gibbs also trained at the Masterton gym and, during his recovery, Capes discovered he too was well able to compete at higher levels in the sport.
Powerlifting comprises three events; the squat, deadlift and bench press. Competitors have three attempts at each lift with a minute to complete each attempt. The best three lifts in each event are combined for an overall total.
Competition is divided into two categories: equipped lifting that allows a supportive bench shirt or squat and deadlift suit or briefs, and raw lifting that is performed without the specialised clothing.
Capes told Farmers Weekly a vital difference for him between the associated sports meant powerlifting was “sheer strength”, while weightlifting was a game of complexity.
“With powerlifting, it’s all about strength and mobility. Weightlifting is a very technical and complex sport. If you don’t have the right form you can’t get the weights off the ground.”
During his first powerlifting competition at Wai Weight Gym at the start of last year he achieved a 400kg total, which qualified him to go to the IPF World Champs, the Oceania Champs, the Commonwealth Champs, and the national championships, in which he took gold in sub-junior class, with a 95kg lead on the second place-getter.
“It was a bit bizarre really. I sort of got thrown into the deep end and I didn’t really have time to blink before I was getting on the plane about to go to Canada to compete.”
Capes varies his training regime, he said, ordinarily lifting five times a week and training up to seven days a week ahead of competitions.
“In the peak up to Canada, our collective weekly total was six tonnes over a week – that’s all our weight reps and sets added together.”
“Training’s not that hard to fit in, especially at boarding school because you can’t go off-campus, but I have special arrangements where I can go into town to the gym because they know what I’m doing, and the school’s really supportive.”
Consistency in training and competition totals are vital for Capes, he said, as is nutrition during the lead-up to a contest.
“I try to have about 600g of carbohydrates and 200g protein so if what I’m eating fits around this then it’s all good to go, even if it’s a pie.”
His sporting career has lifted his game on the family farm as well, he said.
“My strength comes in handy on the farm. I always get the job of picking up the buckets and putting them on the back of the track or chucking hay bales and pellet bags around.”
Capes and his sister Annabelle last year attended the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp held at Manfield Park in Feilding. While powerlifting is central to his sporting ambitions, he also remains focused on attending Lincoln University to study agriculture when he finishes school, and eventually taking over the family farm.
“My goal would be to try for a sports scholarship and study agriculture. One of my teachers also gave me the idea of trying for a scholarship in America because power-lifting is so big over there, so that might be something I go for as well.”
Capes is today preparing for upcoming contests as both a powerlifter and weightlifter, and in the latter sport believes he could make the Commonwealth Games in South Africa in 2022, after adjusting his sights beyond the next games in Australia in 2018.
His latest competitive outing was at the 2016 National Secondary School Weightlifting Championships, at which he snatched 83kg and clean and jerked 105kg, winning the Wellington division contest and taking national silver.
He also qualified to compete as a junior weightlifter at the 2016 New Zealand Olympic Weightlifting Championships in Auckland from October 14 to 16, he said, and as a sub-junior powerlifter will next compete at the Oceania Powerlifting Championships in Christchurch in December.

Wins and placings Capes has achieved in his first 18 months of competition:
Central Districts -74kg sub-junior Champion 2015
New Zealand -74kg sub-junior Champion 2015
Bledisbro Cup -74kg sub-junior Champion 2015
CPL -74kg silver medalist sub-junior Champion 2015
Central Districts -74kg sub-junior Champion 2016
World -74kg sub-junior 6th place-getter 2016
NZ National -83kg sub-junior Champion 2016
(Weightlifting) NZ secondary schools -77kg silver medalist 2016

Additional reporting courtesy of