Singapore bags first win at international kettlebell lifting championship

Singapore Airlines pilot Samuel Lam, 40, was crowned champion on Nov 17 at the 2017 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting in the 68kg weight class amateur category for men. The competition is being held from Nov 15 to 19 in Seoul, South Korea.
Singapore Airlines pilot Samuel Lam, 40, was crowned champion on Nov 17 at the 2017 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting in the 68kg weight class amateur category for men. The competition is being held from Nov 15 to 19 in Seoul, South Korea.PHOTO: SAMUEL LAM
Singapore Airlines pilot Samuel Lam, 40, competing on Nov 17 at the 2017 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting in the 68kg weight class amateur category for men.
Singapore Airlines pilot Samuel Lam, 40, competing on Nov 17 at the 2017 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting in the 68kg weight class amateur category for men.PHOTO: SAMUEL LAM
Samuel Lam standing on top of the podium with the Singapore flag draped over his shoulders.
Samuel Lam standing on top of the podium with the Singapore flag draped over his shoulders.PHOTO: SAMUEL LAM

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean triumphed at the 2017 World Championship of Kettlebell Lifting in his category, the first time someone from the Republic has won in this competition.

Mr Samuel Lam, a pilot with Singapore Airlines, won in the 68kg weight class amateur category for men, in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Friday (Nov 17), beating Ireland in second place and Japan in third.

The championship, which is being held from Nov 15 to 19, attracted about 470 participants from 33 countries.

Mr Valentin Egorov, head judge of the tournament, told The Straits Times that it was the first time a Singaporean had won in the history of the championship.

Kettlebell lifting can be described as an "endurance weightlifting sport". It involves repeatedly lifting kettlebells within a limited amount of time, with the winner performing the most number of lifts.

The world championship has been held since 1992.

Mr Lam, 40, said one of the reasons he picked up the sport about five years ago was his children.

"My twins were toddlers, I wanted to be able to lift them both up at the same time," he said. His twin daughters are now seven years old.

Despite flying between countries for his job, Mr Lam said he sets aside time to try and train five times a week. And whenever he is home in Singapore, he ensures he "touches the kettlebell".

"The hardest thing is consistency. I'm not a full-time athlete who has the time to be on the ground all the time."

When asked how he felt about his win, Mr Lam said: "I feel great, but I want to give the opportunity to those younger than me to compete because I'm already 40. It's just that they lack funding, proper training places and coaches. And it can be expensive if you want proper coaching."

Mr Lam trains over the Internet with a coach based in the United States. They meet at least twice yearly when Mr Lam flies over to the US to refine his technique.

With his win, Mr Lam hopes to attract more in Singapore to kettlebell lifting.

"It's all about trying to give the younger generation an opportunity to know this sport exists, and to keep the current lifters in the sport. Growing the sport has been difficult, and taking time to train is a challenge, but we have the talent pool in our country."

Mr Egorov said: "Samuel's win is really good to promote kettlebell lifting in Singapore and in Asia. I hope that through this, a lot of athletes will know that it's possible to win this competition."

Fellow competitive kettlebell lifter, Ms Hayati Nuffus, 33, said of Mr Lam's win: "I am proud of Sam and his tenacity in this sport, as he didn't stop since he first started training with me back in 2012. And then he moved on to bigger and better adventures, with his results getting better. And he did it all by himself."

Ms Hayati is head coach and owner of AlphaFit Gym, and has represented Singapore in the sport in overseas competitions.