Mansfield Woodhouse heavyweight powerlifter Simon Bennett smashed the world deadlift record by over 20kg as he continued his stunning start to his lifting career in the British Championships at Coventry’s Butts Arena.
Former miner Bennett (50) is now the new British champion in the M3 class and has added the world record to his previous British record.
He also believes this area could become a national hotbed for the sport with Kirky’s multi-world champion and record holder Phil Beniston having put it on the map in recent years.
“It took powerlifting up five months ago,” said Bennett. “I’ve always fancied doing it. I used to train donkey’s years ago, but I’ve built up my own business and worked very hard for about 25 years.
“Before that I worked down the pit for 15 years – Warsop Main, Shirebrook, Markham and then Annesley, moving on as they closed down basically.
“As I start to wind down towards retirement – which won’t be for a long time yet – I wanted something to keep myself active so I thought I’d revert back to weight training.
“I have done okay in business so I’ve built a decent gym at home.
“I have always fancied myself as a pretty strong guy. I wanted to get the best coach I could so I approached Phil Beniston, who has won about 10 world titles.
“He came down to my gym and tested me out and agreed I was strong.
“He suggested I join the British Powerlifting Federation and enter a British qualifier to see if I was good enough to enter the British Championships.”
Bennett certainly made an immediate impact.
“The deadlift is my thing and at the qualifier I broke the British deadlift record as well as doing quite well in the squats and benchpress,” he said.
“Then at the British Championships last week I decided to go for the world record and went half a kilo over with one lift left. I then went for 20 kilos over and lifted it. I lifted 240 kilos and no one has ever lifted more than that in my category in the world so I was quite pleased with that.
“That has qualified me as British champion for the European Championships, which this year are back at Coventry, and the World Championships, which I believe are this year in Limerick in Ireland.
“I now need to increase my squats and benchpress and that’s what I am really aiming for. The programmes I am working around are designed to do that and I am employing the latest scientific methods. I am not a brute force kind of a bloke.
“I find it fascinating how you can coax the body to break normal human parameters. As you get older you are supposed to get weaker but I am now stronger than I have ever been in my life by a good measure and I think I can get much, much stronger.”
He added: “When Phil first weighed me I was 104 kilos and looked quite thin. For my first competition I was 108.6 kilos but I found before the British Championships I had gone up to 115.1 kilos. Competing in the 110 kilo category that meant I had to lose 5.1 kilos in a week!
“I intend to move up to the 125 kilo category which my body will do, either before the Europeans or straight after.”
His new sport is certainly keeping him busy.
“I work with the courts and my business does accident investigations for solicitors and insurance companies plus the service of court orders,” said Bennett.
“I train six days a week, though just 60-90 minutes a day. It’s all about rapid force development. It’s not bodybuilding. I am not interested how big my muscles are. If your muscles are not too big you can lift in a lighter category.
“It’s a lot like boxing. The better boxers are probably the smaller ones. But people only seem interested in the heavyweights. I’ve noticed that when I’ve been lifting you get more people watching and shouting. Everyone wants to see the big lads go at it simply because we lift heavier weights.
“There are a lot of strong guys round Mansfield and I’d love to see them get involved with the sport. We have our fair share of raw, big-boned buggers and this area could be a hot bed for it.
“A lot of them have been brought up in an industrial background and are still big and strong now. They all seem to be older blokes, 40 plus.”