By sports editor Russell Bennett
The upcoming ‘Deadlift for Depression 2’ will be held specifically for people carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, by those who only want to lighten the burden.
It’s the simple, yet incredibly powerful message spurring on those behind south-east powerlifting gyms ‘Evolv: Healthy Bodies’ and ‘Peninsula Barbell’.
The second, annual Deadlift for Depression event will be held at a humble Somerville gym next month with the simple aim of raising as much money as possible for mental health organisation, Beyond Blue.
And if last year’s inaugural event is any indicator – with over $10,000 raised in 2018 – they could be set to record a staggering personal best this time around.
One of the lifters taking part this year is Blind Bight local, and former Tooradin Cricket Club president, Kane Latham.
Deadlift for Depression 2 is particularly close to his heart, with two of his friends taking their own lives in recent times after prolonged mental health battles.
At next month’s event, Latham is aiming to record a whopping 600-pound (or 272-kilogram) deadlift in their memory.
Those who sign up to compete in this year’s event will donate, upon entry, at least $30 each directly to Beyond Blue.
So far, well in excess of $1000 has been raised through competition sign-ups alone – from which there’s no monetary interest to the gym.
“Being a deadlift-only competition, a lot of the people here are already training elsewhere or have a coach somewhere else,” Latham explained from the Somerville gym recently.
“This is just about getting everybody together for the cause.”
Matthew Bund – the owner of Peninsula Barbell – explained that the concept of the event was the brainchild of Jackson Drew, from Evolv.
The two have come together, as key cogs of the south east powerlifting scene, to gather as much momentum as possible for the cause.
“In thinking of all the different charities we could raise money for, mental health probably had the broadest spectrum – it can literally affect anyone,” Bund said.
“After we held the first event, we found that a lot of our gym members had been affected by their own mental health battles too. We didn’t realise the extent of it until after the event, but it really helped them open up.”
For many, there’s still a very real stigma surrounding mental health battles, but Bund explained “this can help to break those barriers down”.
There will be about 40 participants competing on the day – on 21 July at Factory 6/4 Guelph Street, Somerville.
The likelihood is that all of those competing on the day would have been touched by mental health battles in some way, shape, or form – either directly, or indirectly.
“It’s why I wanted to run it,” Drew said.
“I’ve got friends who’ve lost people, and it’s horrible. It can just happen so quickly, out of nowhere.
“This is just lifting weights off the floor, but if as much money as possible can go towards an organisation that supports people in need, then that’s all that matters. I want to run this bigger, and better, every year.”
Drew was quick to add that anyone is welcome to the event on the day – whether they’re lifting, or not.
“Everyone wants to help – to be a part of the raffle, or to help out on the day,” he said.
“We also want people to just come down and be a part of the day, and not even necessarily have to do anything except show their support. That could mean something as simple as reaching out to someone and talking with them – making sure they’re ok.
“The event, itself, is a platform that we can use to raise some much-needed money but we also want to help people feel better about themselves.
“This is a friendly, welcoming environment and we just want people to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
Latham pointed out just how strong the support network is within the burgeoning powerlifting community, particularly in the south east.
“I know if I’m having a bit of a rough patch – whatever it may be – I’ll just come down and train, and so many other members are the same,” he said.
“We’re really lucky in Australia to have such a rich powerlifting community. It’s really tightknit – everyone knows everyone, particularly down this way in the south-east.
“People need to see that there’s really a huge support network within powerlifting – that it’s not like what some people from the outside make it out to be.”
Drew explained that anyone, and everyone is welcome on the day – regardless of which gym they’re a part of.
“Gyms can be quite competitive, but when we put our hands up to host this Deadlift for Depression event, everyone comes out of the woodwork in support of it,” he said.
“We’re 100 per cent for the fundraising, and 100 per cent for the people. I want people to know that we’re right behind this.
“And for lifters – you don’t have to lift anything more than your bodyweight. Hell, you don’t even have to lift anything more than the bar. Just rock up, and show your support.
“Even if we can help one person by doing this, it’s worth it. Everyone needs a support network, and we’re more than happy to provide that.”