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Dynamic duo aiming high

Joseph Teofilo on the bench press with his father Pun in support. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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Lifting weights may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for one father and son pairing it has given them a common target to work towards.

Pun Teolifo and his 16-year-old son Joseph have been lifting together for the past couple of years, and they are both hoping to qualify for the Bench Press World Championships, to be held in Tokyo next year.

Pun said there was a very high chance his son would qualify, but the competition in his own category was tough.

“For me, there’s a very high level of competition.

“We went to our first novice competition in Masterton in March and we both won our classes.”

Pun lifts in the 105kg open men’s category, while Joseph – a Year 12 at Wairarapa College – lifts in the sub-junior under 53kg category.

Joseph can already bench press 90kg, which is only 10kg off what the winner of this year’s World Championships lifted in his category.

Pun caught the attention of a lot of people when he was bench pressing 200kg at the Strength Nation gym in Greytown.

He said it had been an interesting journey to get to this point.

“About two-and-a-half years ago I went back to the gym to get back into shape.

“Halfway through that year, my son gave up sport to commit to his study . . . I still felt he should be doing something, so encouraged him to come to trainings.”

Joseph wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but after a few weeks he was hooked.

Both are now registered with the Central Districts Powerlifting Association and New Zealand Powerlifting Association.

“We’ve both qualified for nationals,” Pun said.

“As soon as we’ve done nationals at the end of September we’ll know if we’ve qualified for the World Championships.”

Pun said his ultimate goal was to work hard enough to give himself a chance of joining his son at the World Championships, should he qualify.

“That’s actually the main focus for me, is to make it to worlds with him – I know he’s got a very good chance of getting there.

“I always knew he was a natural athlete, but it wasn’t until we started seeing men turning around and looking at him and seeing he was benching more than they were that we realised what he was doing.

“As soon as they see the plates they can’t believe it.”

Pun has a plan in place to give himself the best chance of performing at nationals in September, but his progress had been stalled by an injury.

Lifting weights is not the only thing they have in common, as they are both accomplished chess players.

“He’s the chess champion and I’m the chess coach,” Pun said.

“I coach his group at school.”

Joseph said he was thrilled with how he was progressing, but knows there is still a lot of work to do.

“It kind of hit me by surprise, how well I could do.

“I didn’t expect it.”


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