KAILUA-KONA — Powerlifting took center stage Saturday at Imua Iron as Special Olympics West Hawaii athletes showed off their strength ahead of State Summer Games in May on Oahu.
Several dozen people came out to support the athletes in their annual Full Power Powerlifting Meet as they pumped iron via three rounds of squats, bench presses and deadlifts.
The seven athletes present for Saturday’s event, Yuu Takahashi, Nancyn Honma, Kalei Lee, Dara Sabri, Shawn Lehano, Quentin Wong and Isaiah Wong, have all qualified for the summer games next month on Oahu.
The meet was Takahashi’s first since joining the Kona Krushers powerlifting team last year after moving with his family to Hawaii Island from Japan. He took part in all three events, bench press officially and deadlift and squat as exhibition, successfully completing each with a big smile on his face.
“I’m so proud of him,” said his father Wataru Takahashi after his son completed a 60-pound deadlift garnering cheers from family members, friends, fellow team members, volunteers and others.
Putting on the meet was a community effort, said SOWH area director Sharon Yong, thanking the organization’s volunteers, police, supporters and Imua Iron for their support. The team also trains at the facility alongside Imua Iron members.
“This is very awesome, it really really is,” Yong said. “We could never do it alone we need all these people.”
And that sentiment goes both ways.
“It’s super inspiring,” said Imua Iron owner Darren Elisaga. “They always thank me and think I’m doing them a favor, but they have no idea how much more they do for us than we do for them.”