Kirralee Thomas - 10 October 2015
The Australian Masters Games powerlifting competition was fiercely contested today, but for one athlete it was not only about the sport.
Sean Smith, 42 from Thornleigh NSW, has used the fact he is competing in powerlifting to raise awareness and money for one of the Games charity partners, beyondblue.
Sean has been through a number of horrific incidents throughout his life, including witnessing the Bali Bombings and being in two major car accidents.
As a result, he has spent a lot of time in hospital and has suffered badly from depression.
“Depression, post traumatic stress disorder, it’s really tough and it can happen to anyone,” Sean said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a clinical mental health issue or it’s trauma driven, everyone is prone to it.”
Due to what Sean has been through, beyondblue is a charity close to his heart.
“I feel very close to beyondblue and the work they do. They support people wholeheartedly and they save lives. I don’t think people realise that.”
Sean is currently the top fundraiser in the Australian Masters Games beyondblue tally and he has had fantastic results during the competition.
He won the M1 120+ kilogram division gold medal, and lifted three personal bests in all three formats, squat, bench press and deadlift.
However Sean isn’t completely happy with his results.
“I came in with some pretty high targets and I didn’t quite get the targets I wanted, but I still lifted more than I’ve lifted before, so there are some negatives and positives,” he said.
Sean said he will go back and continue training hard, “training is really intense, powerlifting you only compete in twice a year but you need to train really hard and consistently because it is long term.”
For Sean, starting powerlifting was a life changing experience.
“Some of my previous injuries after my car accidents include a shattered pelvis and a broken lower back, so its been quite a long journey. I’ve had to deal with chronic pain as well which essentially I was told was permanent.”
He only started powerlifting in order to lose some weight, however it has turned medicinal for him.
“After six months of training my pain was gone, I’d spent eight years in really chronic pain which is awful, but powerlifting has taken it away.”
“It’s been more than just a sport, it’s been a therapy. Now I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m living pain-free.”
Sean raises money for charity every year, and has raised approximately $150,000 in the last five or six years.
Sean is close to his $3000 fundraising goal, and it is really important to him that he reaches it.
To help Smith reach his target, please donate to http://www.ausmastersgames.everydayhero.com/au/sean-smith-powerlifting.
The 15th Australian Masters Games are underway in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
The Australian Masters Games is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia.
More than 10,000 athletes and spectators will come together in Adelaide in 2019 for the 17th Australian Masters Games.
Tasmania’s North West has put on a show during eight days of memorable Australian Masters Games action, according to Games general manager Scott Wade.
It is impressive for anyone to take up a sport in their later years and compete as a Masters athlete, but starting out as a gymnast at the age of 60 is a remarkable achievement by Alexander Beernink.