Blog King Of The Bench

What a day to have an outdoor event!!! With the weather overcast and the consistent fall of light rain, the WAPA 2016 King of the Bench State Championships was held in less than ideal conditions.

However despite the weather, 23 competitors stepped onto the platform in front of approximately 200 spectators who huddled together to support this annual event.

In the process they witnessed some pretty impressive lifting which included 3 benchers hitting in excess of 200KG, the return to the platform of 2 Powerlifting legends, the emergence of two women lifters who made a big impact on debut. Plus the transformation of a lifter that now looks likely to reset the record books in the 67.5kg class.

In the process they witnessed some pretty impressive lifting which included 3 benchers hitting in excess of 200KG, the return to the platform of 2 Powerlifting legends, the emergence of two women lifters who made a big impact on debut. Plus the transformation of a lifter that now looks likely to reset the record books in the 67.5kg class.

With both of last year’s winners Nang Van Nguyen and Dani Pearsall electing not to compete there was always going to be a new king and queen crowned at the conclusion of this event however before we get into both of the open lifting divisions I’ll highlight a few of the comps that took place inside the main event.


Kane Llyod at 10 years of age was the youngest competitor on the day. Kane who has been training now for about a year under his father’s (Kevin) guidance improves each showing and the lessons he is learning under the bar will hold this child in good esteem for whatever he decides to do later in life. He went three from three, ending with a controlled 42.5kg bench and in doing so was adjudicated as the “Most Promising Lifter” of the meet.


The womens master’s division saw Monica Cook back in action after standing down from the event last year.

Monica has had a long winning association with this event and has been pound for pound one of the best benchers in West Australia consistently over the past 10 years. Her best lift of 90kg at 69.5kg body weight secured her 1st place in this division and set her up nicely for a crack at the open title as well.

Runner up was Heavy Duty Gym’s Jussy Fuentes. Back on the platform this year after breaking an arm late last year, Jussy has hit the stage at every available opportunity this year. Her enthusiasm for training and competing is contagious and is a valued member at Heavy Duty.

A perfect day on the platform saw her last lift of 52.5kg seal second place.


The assembled group saw the return of two Powerlifting legends – Joe MacGowan & Victoria’s Geoff Barclay who now resides in Perth.

Both have had long and distinguished careers on the platform and contributed to the growth of this sport for many years.

Miles Guy was another Master on the day who was taking part in his first WAPA competition. His build suggested he knew his way around a gym and his performance on the day left no one in doubt.

Rounding out the field was Muscle Pit’s and WAPA head Henry Day.

Joe MacGowan was quick out of the blocks with a very fast press of 170kg, a technical area on the second saw a very fast dispatched 180kg turned down. Not deterred Joe elected to have a crack at 200kg which wasn’t quite there on the day – and not helped by a hamstring cramp.

Miles feeling his way elected to start with a light 140kg and steadily worked up to a final lift of 170kg. Going three lifts from three attempts made for a perfect debut.

Geoff Barclay who was a late entry for this event was a very welcomed participant. Geoff finished with a successful lift of 147.5kg. Lifting well within himself I’m looking forward to seeing these numbers jump in the coming months/years as “The Bear” re-establishes himself on the platform.

With talk of heading to this year’s WRPF Worlds in Russia, it was an early wake up call for Henry Day. Struggling to find his groove from the first lift, he made just the one successful lift on the day of 175kg – well short of where he’ll need to be in December come Worlds.

So as the smoke cleared the final standing calculated on age, body weight co-efficient & weight lifted saw Henry Day place 3rd, Miles Guy 2nd and the returning legend Joe MacGowan taking top honours in first place.


It’s always great to see woman embracing this sport and dispelling that myth that strength training makes women bulky.

Today we saw seven women contesting the open title.

Christie Okunev and Michelle Earle-Stone both still feeling their way in this sport produced solid efforts of 45kg and 65kg respectively. Along with Jussy Fuentes it will be interesting to see just how much these girls will improve over the next 12 months.

One lifter that caught the eye was Marilyn Tuna. Backing up from a very strong performance at the Hulk Smash Deadlift Comp in February. Marilyn showed she is not just a one lift wonder with a very solid 70kg Bench that indicated there was a few kilos’ still up her sleeve.

Marilyn is transitioning from Olympic lifting to Powerlifting and with her mind set on the WAPA State Championships in May, I for one am looking forward to seeing just what she will be totalling after a few months of specific Powerlifting training.

The first surprise package of the day was Evelyn Coufreur; 25 years of age and weighing 63.9kg, Evelyn produced a final lift of 67.5kg which edged her into 3rd place just ahead of Marilyn tuna. This was a fantastic effort even more so considering it was her first competition and still very much a novice in Powerlifting terms.

Monica Cook as mentioned sealed the Masters Division with her best lift of 90kg. The lift also earned her the prize for Heaviest Women’s Bench-press on the day. Monica is generally pretty hard to beat on formula however weighing in slightly heavier than usual she opened up the door sightly which was just enough for the eventual winner Fiona Shaw to take advantage on.

Not much was known about Fiona before this event other than she trained at Surge but boy did she get the attention of a few at the completion of this competition.

Weighing in with a body weight of 54.8kg most took a double look when her opening attempt of 70kg was called. Turned down on a technical fault she confidently jumped a further 5kg’s to 75kg on her second attempt to open her account. Her 3rd lift of 77.5kg was also deemed good and with the co-efficient in place enabled her to squeeze passed Monica.

A fantastic effort and huge congratulations on the win Fiona, I’m a tad curious and excited to see how her Squat and Deadlift are… we may have witnessed the start of something big!!


Now to the men’s event which saw a field of 15 assemble ranging in age from 10 to 60 years young.

Before getting to the pointy end of this flight I’d like to make mention that it was great to see Heavy Duty represented so well. The gym is starting to become a beacon for strength training in the Northern Suburbs. Greg Stone with a solid 120kg, Geoff Barclay 147.5kg, Zack Grey 145kg and Ian Galloway with 160kg are all laying down a solid foundation and it will only be a matter of time before these guys are pressing for higher honours.

Adam Gosper on short notice took his place and finished with a credible press of 150kg’s. I think we can expect bigger things in the future from Adam as he familiarises himself with the rules and trains under the watchful eye of Gary MaCartain.

Two of the keenest lifters in the WAPA is Bunbury duo Phil Wilde and Francis Cowan.

Francis using this as a warm up to the GPC States settled for the solitary lift of 170kg. With another week off Francis should be primed well and good for a strong showing.

Muscle Pit’s Corey Millar has gone through something of a body transformation over the last 6 months having his eyes firmly set on rewriting the 67.5kg state records at this year’s WAPA States in May. Corey went 3 from 3 finishing with a solid 127.5kg lift matching the current state record. So all looks good for May.

The top 3 placings effectively came down to a four way battle between Aaron DeCinque, George Okunev, Phil Wilde and Kevin Llyod.

Past winner and bench-press specialist Aaron DeCinque is prominent in any Bench-press event he partakes due to his body weight co-efficient. Weighing in at 92.8kg he was the lightest of the quartet. He opened on a relatively easy opener of 180kg before setting the bar to 190kg on his next attempt. This is a weight I’ve seen Aaron nail a few times but unfortunately on the day he just couldn’t get it going, stalling midway on both his second and third attempts. To give you an idea of closeness had he been successful it would of put him into second place.

George Okunev has been under the guidance of Powerlifting’s greatest coach – Boris Sheiko. I know George had high expectations going into this event hoping to hit 227.5kg (500lbs). He started strongly with a successful 215kg opener before moving to 225kg.

The 225kg wasn’t quite there on his second attempt so he decided “what the hell, lets go for what we came for” and added the extra 2.5kgs to the bar to take the weight to the 500lb mark. However it wasn’t to be.

George puts a lot of time into his training and I know it will only be a matter of time before these numbers are hit. George finished a close third.

Big Phil Wilde from Bunbury is currently West Australia’s most travelled lifter these past months competing twice in Melbourne at the elite ProRaw events and making the 4 hour round pilgrimage each week to Muscle Pit for training.

The previous week he had competed at the Arnold festival in Melbourne but was slightly down that day on the bench. Today he was back to his best with 3 successful lifts that saw Phil go; 200kg, 210kg, 220kg – It’s only a matter of time before Phil gets all 3 lifts working on the same day at which he will produce close to a 900kg total.

Phil finished a solid second and in doing so won the award for the biggest Bench on the day.

That brings us to this year’s King of the Bench – Muscle Pit’s Kevin Llyod…..

What a performance. Kevin was a clear cut winner. His Body weight of 99.1kg and final press of 215kg saw a co-efficient score of 125.46 – 11 co-efficient points ahead of second.

He didn’t look like missing a lift all day and a just reward as Kevin has had his eyes firmly set on this comp after being pipped last year by winner Nang Van Nguyen.

His lift was also only 2.5kg under his best ever at this weight done at the 2014 GPA Worlds.

Congratulations on the win.


So there you have it…. The 2016 King of the Bench done and dusted. The next WAPA event is a novice comp to be held at 24/7 Power Fitness in Maddington on April the 17th aptly named Mortal Kombat. So if you’re keen to compete, support or just plain curious it would be good to see you there.

As usual massive thanks to our team of helpers: Emcee – Adam Coe, Scorers/Record Keepers Julie Preston and Zoe Kruger. The refs Jim Ambrose, Greg & Alisha Rawlinson, Spotters/Loaders Aaron Cullimore, Jess Day & Joel MacCaughan, Photographer Russ Cook and the Muscle Pit Crew who helped pack and transport the equipment.

It’s often said but always true that without the voluntary help from many none of this is possible.

One final note from a WAPA perspective: it was great to look into the crowd and see the various gyms represented, Heavy Duty Gym, Veritas Strength and Muscle Pit teams where very prominent in there gyms “colours”. Great to see the pride and sense of community being built amongst the gyms.

See you soon, Stay Strong and remember there’s “Strength in Unity”.

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