SINGAPORE – At her first mock powerlifting meet in 2017, Farhanna Farid “casually” broke the national record despite having never trained formally in the sport.

While that spoke volumes of her potential then, she still never imagined she would one day hold a world record. Until she actually did.

At the World Open Classic Powerlifting Championships 2022 in South Africa in June, Farhanna dead-lifted 197kg in the women’s Under-52kg open category to eclipse the previous record by 0.5kg.

She later topped that with a 200.5kg effort on her final lift, which also won her the gold medal – Singapore’s first world championship title.

Powerlifting has three components – the squat, the bench press and the dead lift.

Reflecting on her triumph a few weeks later, the 29-year-old told The Straits Times: “The first time I picked up a barbell, I did a sort of curtsy while bending down to pick it up and my boyfriend asked me why I was picking it up that way.

“I was not born to lift, it’s not as though I’ve always wanted to do it. I stumbled upon it, found the beauty of it and stuck to it. One thing led to another and there’s always that stubbornness and curiosity in me and I wanted to push my limits, so that’s where we are now.”

While she had lifted weights in the gym regularly with her boyfriend James Barcelo – also a powerlifter – she never had formal training. But, during a mock meet at the gym, she decided to test herself.

“I can’t remember the exact number but my boyfriend did a check and said ‘Do you know you just casually pulled the national record?’.

“I didn’t even know what that meant but we knew we had to make something out of this because there’s some potential. At that point, I felt like I had nothing to lose and I was curious to see where this might lead me so I took that leap of faith and decided to train (with a powerlifting coach).”

After starting training proper in 2018, she entered her first competition in April that year and broke the national record again – formally this time.

Her upward trajectory continued with her first international meet in December 2018, when she won three gold medals in the U-52kg open category at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship 2018.

She has changed her diet to incorporate more protein and water and she also sleeps more to help with the recovery process. She has reduced her junk food intake but she is still OK with having the occasional burger.

The medical information officer said: “Pizza wouldn’t be good food usually but it’s good for my mental health, it’s soul food. As long as I have a balanced meal, I can keep myself in check and that hasn’t changed.”

Last modified: June 30, 2022