INDIA: In June, he set a powerlifting squat world record in the Under-66kg sub-junior category at the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
On Tuesday (Dec 5), Singaporean powerlifter Matthew Yap proceeded to break his own mark, and another world record, en route to winning two gold medals at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championships 2017 in Alappuzha, Kerala.
His squat effort of 215.5kg in India came after setting the earlier record of 208 kilogrammes in Minsk.
Yap later went on to set a new national record in the bench press with his 135kg effort, as well as a new Asian record of 237.5kg in the deadlift.
In doing so, the 18-year-old won his second gold medal in Kerala, with a new powerlifting world record in the Total category with his cumulative lift of 588kg. The previous record of 585kg was set by Swedish powerlifter Eddie Berglund.
ALMOST FAINTED TWICE AT WEIGHT CUT
Coming into the competition about five kilogrammes heavier than the required weight limit, Yap had to drastically cut his weight at the weigh-in, which took place two hours before his first lift on Tuesday.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, the Republic Polytechnic student said that he almost blacked out due to the punishing conditions in the sauna.
“Six months ago in Belarus, I didn’t have to make such a drastic weight cut before the competition,” Yap said.
“But because I was five kilogrammes over the under-66kg weight limit, I had to do it or risk being disqualified,” he said. “My brother was already telling me not to go ahead and that it would be okay for me to pull out, but I didn’t want to waste my efforts and money in coming to the event.”
Making weight came with risks, according to Yap, who then decided to make a calculated move. “The sauna was just brutal… but I remembered my elder brother telling me once, that the records and the medals didn’t matter. It was the journey which matters in the end,” he recalled.
“And so I decided to make my journey a great one, so I knew that I wanted to come out of the weight cut successful.
“The drastic weight cut, however, also meant two possibilities. The first was that my physical performance could be reduced, and secondly it would mean severe muscle cramps as the competition wore on,” he added.
AVENGING DEFEAT AT THE WORLDS IN THE TOTAL CATEGORY
Stepping onto the competition platform in India, the teen only had one goal in mind: To outperform Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Chebanov, who had earlier beaten the Singaporean in the Total category in Minsk.
“The was a lot of pressure for me coming into the competition… one of which was my rival Chebanov, who had thrashed me in the world championships in the Total (category) by 32.5kg. It meant back then that I had to settle for silver in our weight category,” he recalled.
He credited his elder brother and coach Marcus Yap for helping him focus on the competition and performing to the best of his abilities. “During my lifts, though, I had no idea where my position was in relation to Dmitriy,” said Yap.
“I had been really doubtful, as Dmitry had trashed me before in the previous competition.
“But Marcus simply told me to just focus on myself and I had complete trust in him that I was going to make it,” added Yap.
"I had minor cramps coming into the second attempt at the squat, but because of Marcus' guidance, I managed to break my old world record, and again in the third attempt," he said. "Coming into the deadlift, I had to fight every fibre of my body from being overly aggressive in my final attempt, as that would've led to more cramps."
"And when I successfully set the new Total world record, we were both just blown away. For that I have to thank Marcus' intelligent weight selections for me, during the various attempts."